New Delhi (NVI): Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on October 30, signed the “Call to Action to eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis by 2021”, stating, “While we have taken significant steps to ensure more people are not affected by these NTDs, what we need now is a common vision-driven towards achieving the elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis.”
Lymphatic filariasis, a parasitic disease which is caused by microscopic and thread-like worms is considered as a neglected tropical disease (NTD), globally.
Speaking at the inauguration event of National Symposium on the theme ‘United to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis’, Vardhan said, “Planning, commitment, vision, societal involvement and past experiences can help us achieve our goal of eliminating Lymphatic Filariasis from the country by 2021.”
“This, however, will only be possible if we foster greater collaboration and commitment by all stakeholders including global public health experts, national & state representatives, partners & donors,” said Vardhan.
I signed this pledge to take every step towards eliminating LF by 2021.
A nostalgic moment which reminded me of the mass campaign against #polio I led in the early 90s. Our efforts to make India Polio free is an evidence of our resolve.@PMOIndia @IndiaWillEndLF @MoHFW_INDIA pic.twitter.com/5VCrvSnMq9
— Dr Harsh Vardhan (@drharshvardhan) October 30, 2019
Describing this year as a remarkable one for health in India, Vardhan said, “Under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister, we have witnessed a year when bold commitments, backed by affirmative action have begun to yield desired results.”
“I would like to draw your attention to Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), which are a group of debilitating infectious diseases that impact over 1.5 billion people globally and hold back the poorest communities from reaching their full potential. India is committed to eliminate two of these NTDs – Lymphatic Filariasis (Hathipaon) and Visceral Leishmaniases (Kala-Azar) that put the future of our children at high risk,” he added.
He also suggested that all health partners and stakeholders need to actively work on cross-sector collaboration because to tackle NTDs, true partnerships are essential, and added, “India’s achievements so far have been significant, and this is an opportune time for us to consolidate the successes and finish the job of achieving LF elimination by 2021.”
The Secretary of Health Ministry, Preeti Sudan along with other delegates had also signed the ‘Call to Action to eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis by 2021’.
“I am happy to announce today that India is set to scale-up the use of Triple Drug Therapy (IDA) in a phased manner starting from next month – November 2019 and we are working with state governments and our partners to ensure high level of compliance to these drugs by communities living in endemic districts,” said Preeti Sudan.
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 prevention through Mass Drug Administration (MDA) using combination of two anti-filarial drugs (DEC and Albendazole), and, providing morbidity management and disability prevention (MMDP) services to those affected by the disease, said the statement.
Renewing India’s commitment towards elimination, the government launched the accelerated plan for the elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis (APELF) in 2018, and as part of intensifying efforts towards elimination later rolled out IDA treatment in a phased manner.
By the end of February 2019, India successfully rolled out IDA across 4 districts including Arwal, Jharkhand, Nagpur and Varanasi. A total of 8.07 million people out of 10.7 million vulnerable people (75.4%) were benefitted with IDA medicines.
The Secretary of Ministry of AYUSH, Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha, senior officers of MoHFW, ICMR, NITI Aayog and UN Organisations were also present at the event.