India Launches Drive to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis by 2027

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare commenced a mass drug administration campaign across nine endemic states in India on 8th February, 2024, aiming to eliminate lymphatic filariasis, commonly known as elephantiasis, by 2027, three years ahead of the global target.

Key Points

  • Public Health Challenge: Lymphatic filariasis, categorized as a neglected tropical disease by the World Health Organisation (WHO), poses a significant public health challenge in India and globally, being a leading cause of long-term disability worldwide.
  • Elimination Target: India has set an ambitious goal to eliminate lymphatic filariasis by 2027, aligning with a mission-mode, multi-partner approach to achieve the target ahead of the global deadline of 2030.
  • Launch of Campaign: Union Health Minister inaugurated the mass drug administration exercise, emphasizing a collaborative effort involving Jan Bhagidaari (public participation) and a Whole of Government and Whole of Society approach to combat the disease effectively.
  • Scope of Campaign: The campaign targets 81 districts across nine endemic states, including Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh, covering a wide geographic area affected by lymphatic filariasis.
  • Preventive Measures: The Minister stressed the importance of not only administering medicines but also implementing measures to control the spread of the disease through mosquitoes, highlighting the need for community engagement and synergy between state and central governments.
  • Awareness and Communication: The Minister emphasized the significance of awareness generation and communication campaigns at the grassroots level, urging the involvement of all stakeholders to ensure the success of the mission.
  • Impact: Lymphatic filariasis causes significant disability and disfigurement, with painful manifestations like lymphoedema, elephantiasis, and scrotal swelling.
  • India’s Challenge: India bears nearly 40% of the global burden of this parasitic vector-borne disease, making the elimination campaign crucial for public health improvement.