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Bihar is committed to eliminate Filaria.

Community participation is essential for the success of MDA. “Shri Mangal Pandey”

Anisur Rehman

Patna: While Bihar fights Covid-19 and the surge of viral fever cases across the state, the leadership has also turned its focus on eliminating Filariasis. State Health Minister Shri Mangal Pandey flagged off Mass Drug Administration rounds in 22 districts in an in-person cum virtual launch ceremony from Patna. Mass Drug Administration (MDA) round started from 20th September across 22 districts of Araria, Banka, Begusarai, Bhagalpur, Buxar, East Champaran, West Champaran, Gopalganj, Jehanabad, Jamui, Kaimur, Katihar, Khagaria, Madhepura, Munger, Muzaffarpur, Patna, Saharsa, Saran, Sitamarhi, Siwan and Supaul. This round will be undertaken by health workers strictly observing COVID-19 protocols including hand and respiratory hygiene, social distancing, and contactless administration.

“Community participation is essential for the success of any programme. Let’s eliminate this disease together and realize the vision of a healthy, Filaria-free Bihar,” said Shri Mangal Pandey at the launch. He also urged to the front-line workers to motivate at-least one person from every house-hold to became a volunteer to create awareness in the society. The Minister and other attendees at the launch also consumed the anti-filarial drugs while demonstrating the contactless bowl method (drugs administered through a bowl) which health workers would be using during the round. The health minister added that the state is constantly striving to achieve significant health and development goals and is also committed to the health security of all.

Filariasis is a disabling disease that is transmitted by infected mosquitoes. Usually acquired in childhood, Filariasis damages the lymphatic system and if left untreated, causes abnormal enlargement of body parts such as hydrocele (abnormal swelling of the scrotum) and lymphedema (swelling in the limbs). A few people also develop chronic cough called Tropical Pulmonary Eosinophilia and can have symptoms like passing of milky white urine (chyluria). Patients suffering from Lymphedema and Hydrocele often experience difficulties in carrying out day-to-day activities in their lives. Furthermore, patients also face stigma and discrimination due to severe disability and disfiguration that is irreversible if not treated early.

Filariasis is preventable with the administration of anti-filarial drugs during annual Mass Drug Administration rounds. During this MDA round, close to 7 crore target beneficiaries will be administered these drugs. Dr. Navin Chandra Prasad, Director in-chief (Disease control and public health) Health Services, Govt. of Bihar welcoming the State Health Minister’s words of encouragement also said, “During MDA, a combination of two drugs i.e., diethylcarbamazine (DEC) and albendazole is administered to the eligible population (excluding children below 2 years, pregnant women, and seriously ill people) in affected areas to interrupt transmission of the disease.

These drugs must be consumed in the presence of health workers” The albendazole administered in the Filariasis Elimination Programme, also treats worm disease in children, which directly helps in their physical and intellectual development,” said Shri Sanjay Kumar Singh (IAS) Executive Director, State Health Society, Govt. of Bihar.
Lauding the state government’s efforts to eliminate Filaria especially and even during the pandemic, Dr Nupur Roy, Additional Director, NVBDCP said, “All districts of Bihar are endemic and all the population are at risk, hence, we must work hard to eliminate the disease. Given Bihar’s significant progress, it appears like the goal of elimination is not too far.” Besides NVBDCP and state leadership, representatives of partner organizations like WHO, CARE, PCI, CFAR, LEPRA, GHS and 22 district officials also participated in the launch.