Eliminating Lymphatic Filariasis In India By 2020

PCI is committed to ending the burden of debilitating, preventable diseases such as Lymphatic filariasis in India and worldwide.

Eliminating Lymphatic Filariasis In India By 2020

PCI is committed to ending the burden of debilitating, preventable diseases such as Lymphatic filariasis in India and worldwide.

Overview

Lymphatic filariasis, is a neglected tropical disease caused by parasitic worms. Most cases of the disease have no symptoms, but some people experience a syndrome called elephantiasis, which causes severe swelling in the arms, legs, breasts, or genitals. As is the case with other neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), Lymphatic filariasis disproportionately affects vulnerable populations, perpetuating an ongoing, cyclical relationship between disease and poverty.

At least 43 percent of people with Lymphatic filariasis live in India, where Lymphatic filariasis has reached endemic proportions across 256 districts in 16 states. However, Lymphatic filariasis treatment, control, and elimination has been overlooked and underfunded compared to other infectious diseases.

Limited awareness about the disease perpetuates low risk perception and fear of prevention drugs. Therefore, mobilizing communities with timely, accurate information and positive social pressure is critical to Lymphatic filariasis prevention and elimination. India is committed to eliminating Lymphatic filariasis by 2020.

A Strategy For Lymphatic Filariasis Elimination

Annual Mass Drug Administration and Morbidity Management and Disability Prevention are the two pillars of India’s strategy for Lymphatic filariasis elimination. PCI is supporting these efforts through the Social Mobilization for Lymphatic Filariasis Elimination project.

With support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, PCI works with the National Vector Borne Disease Control Program to integrate effective social mobilization strategies within current Lymphatic filariasis elimination programs.

Specifically, PCI mobilizes several platforms and channels such as State Rural Livelihoods Missions, Panchayat Raj Institutions, frontline health workers, self-help groups, and schools to share information and shift demand in favor of Mass Drug Administration and prevention drug consumption.

The project is implemented in eight high endemic states in India—Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal, and Maharashtra.

In order to stimulate demand and improve drug compliance during Mass Drug Administration, PCI:

  • Builds awareness about the disease, its consequences, prevalence, local endemicity, and the possibility of prevention through drug treatment.
  • Popularizes the Mass Drug Administration dates among communities.
  • Builds the capacity of drug administrators and other health workers in effective interpersonal communication and counseling to encourage proper drug consumption.

PCI conceptualized and designed a social and behavior change toolkit for frontline health staff, drug administrators, and schools. These tools help drug administrators educate others on Lymphatic filariasis symptoms, transmission, and prevention. All communication materials within the toolkit have been approved by the Government of India. In October, two larger states, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, adapted and utilized the communication materials during their Mass Drug Administration campaigns.

Other PCI lymphatic filariasis program activities include:

  • Creating an oath of Lymphatic filariasis drug consumption for school students to recite after the assembly
  • Adding an appeal focused on the disease, preventative drugs, and Mass Drug Administration dates to the toolkit for use by churches and the Muslim religious leaders during their religious announcements
  • Designing a pictorial handbill that conveys key messages about Lymphatic filariasis causes, transmission, and prevention which was shared with the national and state-level vector-borne disease control programs

Additionally, a seven-minute bilingual, motivational training video was developed that covers all activities that administrators should perform before and during Mass Drug Administration. A WhatsApp version of the video has been circulated to all the states with voiceover featuring regional languages.

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