Lymphatic filariasis: Govt launches free medicine distribution

New Delhi, Jan 14:The government has launched a public health campaign to provide more than 400 million people with free medication that could protect them from lymphatic filariasis, also called elephantiasis, that can cause disability and disfigurement among those infected. The disease has high prevalence and serious complications, but its prevention is very easy. The Health Ministry, however, has faced enormous difficulties in combating the disease.

Many people are complacent when it comes to prevention, in part because of apathy toward the disease and the length of time it takes to manifest itself (8 to 10 years). In addition, many people fail to consume their medicine even with the government's door-to-door efforts to deliver free, preventive doses and educational messaging in endemic regions. India has made great strides over the last decade to eliminate lymphatic filariasis in endemic states and we are now on the verge of reaching elimination targets nationally. However, the last mile of the journey is often the most difficult, said CK Mishra, Additional Secretary and Mission Director of the National Health Mission at Ministry of Health. (Read: Harsh Vardhan to health officials launch anaemia awareness campaign )

We are employing a wide range of new communications tactics and partnership that will help us encourage all people at risk from this disease to consume free dose of medicine during our annual mass drug administrations, he said. The Ministry has partnered with the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases (Global Network), an initiative of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, to lead the development of a branded public service advertising campaign (PSA) called 'Hathipaon Mukt Bharat'(Filariasis Free India) in close coordination with the Ministry's National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme.

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This campaign supports the government's massive effort to deliver preventive medication to high-risk communities within 17 states, including four states in particular that comprise nearly two-thirds of the lymphatic filariasis burden in India which are Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal. Nearly 500 million people in India are at risk of contracting lymphatic filariasis. India's success in eliminating this devastating disease will bolster global efforts to eliminate lymphatic filariasis and other neglected tropical diseases in other endemic countries, said Dr Neeraj Mistry, Managing Director of the Global Network and a campaign consultant for the Ministry. (Read: Harsh Vardhan launches campaign to fight malnutrition and related diseases)

Source: PTI

Photo source: Getty images

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