“Planning, commitment, vision, societal involvement and past experiences can help us achieve our goal of eliminating Lymphatic Filariasis from the country by 2021” said Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare as he inaugurated the day-long National Symposium on the theme ‘United to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis’ in New Delhi today.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Harsh Vardhan said that this year has been a remarkable one for health in India. Under the dynamic leadership of our Hon’ble Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, we have witnessed a year when bold commitments, backed by affirmative action have begun to yield desired results.
Dr Harsh Vardhan added “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.” Dr Harsh Vardhan suggested that all health partners and stakeholders need to actively work on cross-sector collaboration because to tackle NTDs, true partnerships are essential.
“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”, Union Health Minister stated.
As Dr Harsh Vardhan signed the ‘Call to Action to eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis by 2021’ he said “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. 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 and donors.”
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 2 anti-filarial drugs (DEC and Albendazole), and, providing Morbidity Management and Disability Prevention (MMDP) services to those affected by the disease.
Renewing India’s commitment towards elimination, the Government launched the Accelerated Plan for 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 in Bihar (20 December 2018), Simdega in Jharkhand (10 January 2019), Nagpur in Maharashtra (20 January 2019) and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh (20 February 2019). A total of 8.07 million people out of 10.7 million vulnerable people (75.4%) were benefitted with the IDA medicines.
Preeti Sudan, Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and other delegates also signed the Call to Action to eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis by 2021.
Preeti Sudan, Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare said, “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.”