NVnews desk/ kaushambi, Prayagraj/ health news
On December 18, 2020, the Department of Medical Health and Family Welfare, Uttar Pradesh with support from Global Health Strategies (GHS), World Health Organization (WHO) and Project Concern International (PCI), PATH and Centre for Advocacy and research (CFAR) organized a virtual media sensitization workshop to spotlight the upcoming Mass Drug Administration (MDA) rounds for elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) in the state. The main objective of this workshop was to sensitize media representatives about LF and the importance of MDA in eliminating the disease.
LF is a disabling disease that is transmitted by mosquitoes. Usually acquired in childhood, the infection 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).
Dr. Ashok Paliwal, Director, vector Borne Diseases, Government of UP, stated that “The participation of masses is crucial to make any public health a success. It is important for us to break the cycle of transmission to defeat Filariasis. Elimination of polio was only possible when we converted this in to a mass movement with active support from the communities. If media also disseminates the right message, our fight against NTDs will become stronger. Once a year, for three years in a row can eliminate Filariasis from the state and the country”.
Dr. VP Singh stated that “8 districts in UP will be undertaking MDA from December 21, namely Auraiya, Etawa, Farukhabad, Ghazipur, Kannauj, Kaushambi, Raebareily and Sultanpur. All safety precautions (hand hygiene, mask and physical distancing) will be followed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 1,85,45,664 beneficiaries will be administered DEC and Albendazole by trained health workers. Everyone except children below 2 years of age, pregnant women and seriously ill people must consume the prescribed dosage during the rounds in the presence of trained health workers”. Dr. Singh further added that “those suffering from medical conditions like hypertension, diabetes, arthritis etc. must consume the anti-filarial drugs, as they will not have any adverse reactions. However, for those who undergo nausea, vomiting, etc. after consuming the drugs must not worry. It is plausible that the reaction is due to the presence of micro filaria in the body”.
Representatives from partner organizations such as WHO, PATH and PCI, addressed the media and responded to pertinent questions from the media representatives. Dr. Tanuj Sharma, World Health Organization (WHO) explained about the LF disease burden in the state of UP and the different manifestations of Filariasis. He further spoke about ‘Morbidity Management and Disability Prevention’ (MMDP) as an important strategy for those affected with lymphedema. Mr. Dhruv Singh, Project Concern International (PCI) threw light on the awareness generation activities undertaken by PCI at the Panchayat level, through schools, Self Help Groups (SHGs), religious leaders, and organizations such as NSS and NCC. Dr. Shoaib Anwar, PATH, explained that MDA is one of the best tools to fight Filariasis. He further added that Filariasis is ‘hidden illness’, hence, all efforts must be made to prevent the disease by consuming anti-filarial drugs during MDA rounds.
Mr. Sharat Pradhan, Senior Journalist commented that “Filaria is an age-old disease which must be defeated. The role of media fraternity is critical in our fight against filariasis. The media, with the help of right messaging can communicate that beneficiaries must consume the free of cost anti-filarial drugs in the presence of healthcare workers. Varied methods for disseminating messaging in the form of human interest stories, using audio/video formats published in the mass media can amplify the message of elimination of filariasis”.
Lastly, Mr. Anuj Ghosh, GHS, spoke about the role of media for making public health programmes a success. He further urged the media representatives to disseminate messaging at the grassroots about the MDA rounds in UP starting 21 December for its successful coverage.