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The 10th meeting of the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (GAELF) concluded recently with Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Vikas Sheel urging all partners to come out of silos, integrate efforts and implement the filariasis elimination agenda to meet the 2020 global Lymphatic Filariasis elimination target.
The three-day GAELF meeting brought together various country programmes, non-governmental organisations, research organisations, donor governmental agencies, and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The theme this year was 'Celebrating progress towards elimination: Voices from the field on overcoming programme challenges'.
In his concluding speech, Sheel suggested that a Delhi chapter of the GAELF be formed and more national-level meetings be held. He underlined India's commitment to eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis as articulated by Union Health Minister JP Nadda during the inaugural session on Wednesday.
Nadda launched the Accelerated Plan for Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis (APELF) for India and announced the phased roll-out of the Triple Drug Therapy or IDA (Ivermectin, diethylcarbamazine citrate and albendazole) in India. Kenya and Guyana are the other two countries that have committed to launch IDA.
Dr. Dharmashaktu, Principal Advisor, Public Health, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, in his address on the concluding day reiterated India's resolve to eliminate filariasis and other neglected tropical diseases and the importance of cross-linkages with other health programmes.
"The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan will indirectly provide robust support to the Lymphatic Filariasis elimination programme," he added.
Delivering the vote of thanks, Professor Charles Mackenzie, GAELF Chair, said, "India, as a country, has a long and distinguished history of understanding and caring for those infected with this potentially devastating infection and thus, it made complete sense to hold this event here. We are glad that the discussions have been very fruitful and the stage has been set for planning the final steps in countries that are yet to eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis."
He added "there is now a wider appreciation of the global activities by each country for success." According to Dr. P.K Sen, Director, National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme, "GAELF10 is the beginning of the endgame of Lymphatic Filariasis for all filariasis endemic countries in the world."
Over 300 national and international participants discussed some of the most relevant and pressing issues with respect to this disease and highlighted the need for adopting lessons from the 11 countries that have successfully eliminated Lymphatic Filariasis.
Key recommendations, from the various group sessions at the meeting, covered aspects of Lymphatic Filariasis elimination like innovative treatments, morbidity management and disability prevention and mental well-being of patients. Some of the recommendations include:
National Lymphatic Filariasis programs should aim to include and address the new WHO frameworks for NTDs (neglected tropical diseases) and for the SDGs (sustainable development goals) under the target of providing universal health care (UHC).
Countries should have a central national policy and methodologies that come from a national advisory body, and these should be disseminated to regional segments of the countries for implementation.
Each country should consider steps and targets that are most suitable for their own programmes. GAELF could help coordinate these decisions and convey them to WHO Geneva.
Use of the new three-drug therapy (IDA) dramatically accelerates the process to elimination of transmission of lymphatic filariasis. This new approach is safe and can potentially reduce a 5-year treatment regime to 2 years.
Psycho-social aspects should be added to patient care for those who suffer from the disease; the impact of lymphatic filariasis on the families of patients needs to be acknowledged.
Countries should consider ways of utilizing existing tests, results and indicator tools to provide information on various aspects of Lymphatic Filariasis programmes.
Advocacy messages that are usable in all endemic countries, and that convey various aspects of the programme, should be prepared. Messages should be carefully tailored for different audiences.
Programmes and partners should keep the political community engaged and constantly informed regarding the programme progress and successes achieved. (ANI)
This is published unedited from the ANI feed.
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