India will welcome new initiatives and research into the filariasis elimination programme, Union Health Minister J P Nadda said today, asserting that the country is committed to eliminating Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) transmission and disease burden.
Nadda, who inaugurated the 10th meeting of Global Alliance to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (GAELF), said significant progress towards filariasis elimination has been made by India as 100 districts out of total 256 endemic districts have achieved elimination targets.
"India will always welcome newer initiatives and research to translate into the Filariasis elimination programme," Nadda said.
The Union minister said with the concerted efforts of "government, state governments and development partners, 100 districts out of total 256 endemic districts have achieved elimination targets and stopped Mass Drug Administration after successful validation by Transmission Assessment Survey (TAS) and are under post MDA surveillance".
LF or commonly known as elephantiasis is one of the oldest and most debilitating neglected disease, which is currently endemic in 73 countries of the world, including India.
The disease is caused mainly by Wuchereria Bancrofti and spread by Culex mosquito. This mosquito grows in dirty accumulated water.
The disease affects the poorest population in society, particularly those living in areas with poor water, sanitation and hygiene.
LF does not kill affected people, but may cause permanent disfigurement, reduced productivity and social stigma.
The Union Health Minister said that the strategy to eliminate LF in India is based on the twin pillars of Mass Drug Administration (MDA) once in a year for interruption of transmission that is no new case and to cater to the patients already afflicted with the disease with morbidity management.
Nadda said that there is also an urgent need for total integration of different departments for mobilising the community.
"I am sure 'Accelerated Plan for Elimination of LF 2018 released today will also expedite the last leap for elimination of LF," Nadda added.
He also gave away the GAELF awards to 11 countries- Cambodia, Cook Islands, Egypt, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Niue, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Togo, Tonga and Vanuatu, for successfully interrupting the transmission.
Nadda also released the Accelerated Plan for Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) 2018 for India.
Minister of State for Health Ashwini Kumar Choubey pointed out that it is critical to enhance awareness among the affected communities about the disease and its treatment.
"I am sure during three-day deliberations, experts will come out with pragmatic approach towards elimination of LF.
"There is a need to all stakeholders to work in integrated manner in order to eliminate lymphatic filariasis as public health problem," Choubey said.
GAELF is an alliance of partners from 72 LF endemic national country programmes, NGOs, private sectors, academic and research institutes and international development agencies that assists WHO's Global Programme to Eliminate LF.
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