As the 2nd wave of Covid ebbs and India braces for the third, the Maharashtra government is leaving no stone unturned towards the elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis. On July 1, which also happens to be National Doctors’ Day, the state health department organized a launch ceremony to flag off the Mass Drug Administration rounds in six districts i.e.Bhandara, Chandrapur, Gadchiroli, Gondia, Yavatmal and Nanded. The rounds will begin from July 1 to July 15 2021, following all COVID-19 protocols. With this, Maharashtra will become the first state in the country to resume these rounds post the devastating 2nd wave of Covid.
Maharashtra has 18 LF endemic districts. As of 2020-21, close to 31,258 lymphoedema and 11,929 hydrocele cases were reported from the endemic districts. MDA is one of the two pillars under the National Programme for Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis where anti-filaria drugs are administered to the eligible population once a year. During the MDA, a combination of two drugs — diethylcarbamazine (DEC) and albendazole — or three drugs — Ivermectin, DEC, and Albendazole — is administered to the eligible population in affected areas to prevent transmission of the disease. Of the six districts going to MDA, 3 districts Gadchiroli, Chandrapur and Bhandara will undertake the crucial triple drug therapy (IDA).
Mr. Rajesh Tope, Minister for Public Health and Family Welfare, Maharashtra participated in the launch virtually, along with Additional Chief Secretary (Health) Dr Pradeep Vyas, state health commissioner, Dr N Ramaswamy, Dr Archana Patil, Director, Health Services, Filaria, Dr. Sanjeev Jadhav, Additional Director, Health services and other district level officials. At the launch, Mr. Rajesh Tope, Health Minister, Maharashtra, said, “Despite the 2nd wave of covid, we are making steady progress towards elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases. I urge the community to participate in these crucial MDA rounds, while also maintaining Covid safety which includes participation in the Immunisation programmes.”
The health minister also instructed district officials and frontline workers to work in mission mode and spread trust in the community.
Alluding to the importance of integration on the ground level and otherwise state health commissioner Dr N Ramaswamy said, “Interdepartmental coordination and innovation, especially during a pandemic are key to resolving last mile delivery challenges.”
Dr Pradeep Vyas, Additional Chief Secretary (Health), insisted that the health staff & other machinery in the 6 districts should coordinate efforts while also appreciating the efforts of state ambassador Swapnil Joshi in spreading and raising awareness about LF and the importance of its elimination.
Dr Archana Patil, Director, Health Services, Filaria, said “At the administrative level and with the coordinated efforts of all departments, we will definitely achieve the elimination target. Besides this, we must aim for 100% compliance during these MDA rounds.”
Except pregnant women, children below 5 years and those seriously ill, everyone will be administered the anti-filaria drugs in the presence of health workers in these 6 districts. This launch ceremony was organized by the Maharashtra Health Services and supported by Global Health Strategies (GHS), World Health Organization (WHO) and Project Concern International (PCI).