Bihar health minister Mangal Pandey Monday urged healthcare workers (HCWs) to motivate people to become volunteers and encourage community participation in the mass drug administration (MDA) campaign to eliminate filariasis.
Speaking at the launch of the MDA round across 22 of Bihar’s 38 districts of Bihar on Monday, Pandey said the drive would be successful only through community participation. For this, he urged the HCWs, including accredited social health activists (ASHA) and auxiliary nursing midwives (ANM), to motivate at least one person from every household to become a volunteer to create awareness about it in the society when they visit from door-to-door for the administration of diethylcarbamazine (DEC) and albendazole tablets during the MDA round.
He also urged public representatives, including MP, MLA, MLC and panchayati raj institution representatives to join the mass movement and encourage people to take the tablets and also motivate others to take them.
“Community participation is essential for the success of any programme. Let’s eliminate this disease together and realise the vision of a healthy, filaria-free Bihar,” said Pandey.
The 22 districts where the campaign was launched includes 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.
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.
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 the 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.
“The albendazole administered in the filariasis elimination programme, also treats worm disease in children, which directly helps in their physical and intellectual development,” said Sanjay Kumar Singh, executive director, State Health Society, Bihar.
Filariasis is preventable with the administration of anti-filarial drugs during annual MDA rounds. Around 7 crore target beneficiaries will be administered these drugs during this MDA round.
The tablets are administered to the eligible population, excluding children below two 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, said Dr Navin Chandra Prasad, director-in-chief (disease control and public health) health services, Bihar. Additional director Dr Anjani Kumar proposed a vote of thanks.
Representatives of partner organisations like WHO, CARE, PCI, CFAR, LEPRA, GHS were also present on the occasion.
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