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Elimination Of Lymphatic Filariasis: Here's How Karnataka Health Officials Are Ensuring Lymphatic Filariasis Doesn't Spread

Appealing to the people to consume drugs, Dr. Ramesh K Kaulgud, Joint Director, Directorate of National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP), says that Kalaburgi and Bidar districts have recorded around 7,078 and 3,424 cases of lymphedema and 405 and 346 cases of hydrocele.

Elimination Of Lymphatic Filariasis: Heres How Karnataka Health Officials Are Ensuring Lymphatic Filariasis Doesnt Spread

Transmitted by mosquitoes, Filariasis is a disabling disease

It's been a fortnight since the mass drug administration round by the Directorate of Health and Family Welfare Services began in Bidar and Kalaburgi districts. Ensuring that the drugs reach the eligible beneficiaries, this has been an effort by the department to also ensure that it is the endemic of Lymphatic Filariasis. 

Dr.Ravi Kumar, Senior Regional Director, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare says “The Mass Drug Administration rounds have been very successful. The first major step was the booth approach. We have done well in Uttara Kannada, Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts. These three districts will soon be declared free from Filariasis. We have started the process of validation. Kalaburgi, Yadgir and Bidar where the administration of drugs that is happening now”.  

Appealing to the people to consume drugs, Dr. Ramesh K Kaulgud, Joint Director, Directorate of National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP), says that Kalaburgi and Bidar districts have recorded around 7,078 and 3,424 cases of lymphedema (swelling in the limbs and breasts) and 405 and 346 cases of hydrocele (abnormal swelling of the scrotum) in both districts.  



“We have been carrying out the two-drug therapy. But now, with an aim to eliminate and achieve 100 per cent elimination of 100 per cent mircofilariasis, we are administering the beneficiaries with triple-drug therapy in Bidar, Kalaburgi and Yadgir districts of Karnataka. While in Bidar and Kalaburgi, this is the second time where triple-drug therapy is in use; in Yadgir district we had taken special permissions to once again administer triple-drug to eliminate Lyphatic Filariasis”.  

Amid the challenges of Covid pandemic, the administration of the drugs is being carried out by the Directorate of National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme ensuring all eligible households get benefited.

The month-long rounds that started on February 21 have seen the health care workers going from door to door to administer anti-filarial drugs and are expected to continue until March 21. This being an on-going effort by the health department, the anti-filarial drugs will be administered to community members working in jails, factories, hostels, officials, schools and colleges. 

Dr. Ravi Kumar adds that one of the many and a unique challenge that the health department has faced so far is ensuring the beneficiaries consume drugs, especially in the Urban areas. 

“The challenge has been the door to door administration of drugs. We have seen around 90 to 99 per cent coverage in rural areas. They are more understanding, they accept the drugs and consume them in front of us, unlike the urban areas, and it is still a concern. To bridge this gap, we advertise the importance of consuming the drugs through advertisements and educating them through municipal corporators and coordination meetings”.   

Transmitted by mosquitoes, Filariasis is a disabling disease. Usually acquired during childhood, the infection damages the lymphatic system. If left untreated, it causes abnormal and irreversible enlargement of body parts such the scrotum, limbs and breasts. A single dose of a combination of Ivermectin, Diethylcarbamazine citrate and Albendazole is administered to eligible beneficiaries. Those who are not eligible are children below 5 years, pregnant women and people suffering from serious illnesses. 

To ensure that the diseases don't spread to other districts, officers have been tasked to carry out random testing at construction sites. Since in a few cases, a few migrant workers were tested positive for microfilariasis, district officers have been constantly monitoring the movement of migrant workers in the state while collaborating with revenue and labour departments.  

“Karnataka is ahead of the game as compared to any other states. One of our key points has been surveillance. Officers in the vector borne department keep a tab on the number of migrant labourers that has come in to the state. We ensure the transmission is interrupted by screening them, irrespective whether they have fever microfilaria or malaria” added Dr.Ravi Kumar, Senior Regional Director, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.  


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