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LYMPHATIC FILARIASIS

Written by Talent KAS

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Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has signed call to action to eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis by 2021.

What is Lymphatic Filariasis?

  • Lymphatic Filariasis is a parasitic infection spread by mosquitoes.
  • It commonly known as elephantiasis.
  • The disease is caused by three species of thread-like nematode worms, known as filariaeWuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi and Brugia timori.
  • The parasites develop in and then damage the human lymphatic system and associated tissues.
  • It is usually contracted in childhood, often before the age of five.
  • The lymphatic system is a network of vessels and specialized tissues that are essential to the maintaining the overall fluid balance and health of organs and limbs.
  • They are a major component of the body’s immune defense system.
  • People suffering with this disease continue to bear debilitating impact on their health, reducing their potential to work and, in the long run, limiting economic opportunities of families.

Background

  • Since the launch of the Global Program to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (GPELF) by the World Health Organization in 2000, endemic countries across the world including India have adopted a twin pillar strategy.
  • The Strategy includes prevention through Mass Drug Administration (MDA) using combination of 2 anti-filarial drugs (DEC and Albendazole), and, providing Morbidity Management and Disability Prevention (MMDP) services to those affected by the disease.

Accelerated Plan for Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis (APELF)

  • Renewing India’s commitment towards elimination, Central Government has launched the APELF in 2018.
  • As a part of intensifying efforts towards elimination, the government later rolled out IDA treatment (triple drug therpay) in a phased manner.
  • As per India’s Accelerated Plan for Lymphatic Filariasis, over 4 billion treatments have been availed by over 630 million target population in endemic districts.
  • India has made steady progress under the national program by reducing the infection levels in the community below the threshold level in 96 districts, which accounts for nearly 37% of the total districts.

Challenges

  • The challenge still persists in the remaining 160 districts that continue to sustain active transmission.
  • Despite attaining high reported coverage in these districts with multiple annual rounds of MDA over the years, actual consumption of medicines remains low.
  • This is mainly due to low awareness about the benefits of medicines at the community-level leading to non-adherence to treatment.
[Source: PIB, Livemint]

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Talent KAS