Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Friday emphasised that India is not neglecting Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) while inaugurating the National Symposium on India’s Roadmap to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis in New Delhi.
During the Symposium, the Health Minister reiterated India’s commitment towards the 2028 target for LF elimination in India.
The inaugural session, convened at Delhi’s Vigyan Bhawan, flagged off the national symposium which served as a platform to highlight India’s progress in eliminating Lymphatic Filariasis and discuss key points of convergence for policymakers, government representatives, technical experts, research, and development experts to formulate the Revised Strategy for the Elimination of LF.
At the inaugural session, the health minister called for the “right synergy of governmental action and societal improvement”. Dr. Mandaviya highlighted several steps taken by the government that was reflective of its commitment towards eliminating LF in India.
Pushing for the scale-up of innovative strategies Dr. Mandaviya stated that they hold the potential to completely transform our elimination response.
Dr. Mandaviya stressed that the government is dedicated to ensure the accessibility of Mass Drug Administration (MDA) rounds at every single doorstep within the next three to five years.
“133 districts across 20 states/UTs today provide anti-filarial drugs to the eligible population, completely free of cost…preventive drugs have been given to individuals at community spaces such as schools and hospitals, at booths specifically set up, and even at their doorstep,” Mandaviya said during the Symposium.
Dr. Mandaviya also stated the Enhanced Strategies for elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis launched at the National Symposium will serve as a pre-cursor to the launch of the Pan-India MDA Campaign in Mission Mode on the 10th of February this year, with the objective to bring unprecedented focus and energy towards the efforts to distribute preventive drugs among the community.
Moreover, the ministry will “observe this day with necessary mass visibility campaigns at the national, state, district, sub-district and block level to ensure that no one is left behind when it comes to accessing LF preventing drugs” Dr Mandaviya concluded with the call to action for instilling a sense of ownership within India’s citizens towards the mission to eliminate LF once and for all. The minister ended with the vision that “once elimination is achieved, families can be freed from the harsh social and economic hardships associated with LF,” he said.
The Inaugural session also saw an address by Roli Singh, Additional Secretary & Mission Director – National Health Mission Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and special addresses by Rajesh Bhushan (Virtual) Union Health Secretary Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and Dr. V K Paul Member, NITI Aayog.
Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) is a tropical disease that affects the lymph nodes and lymph vessels. According to World Health Organization (WHO), is spread by infected mosquitoes. The bites of these infected mosquitoes deposit a parasite that travels to the lymph system.
Although most cases are symptomless, sometimes long-term damage to the lymph system causes swelling in the legs, arms, and genitalia. It also increases the risk of frequent bacterial infections that harden and thicken the skin (elephantiasis).
In December last year, the centre had asked states to effectively deal with cases of communicable diseases like measles, kala-azar, leprosy, and lymphatic filariasis which could flare up if not checked at an early stage even as the focus remained on covid-19.