Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) a mosquito borne infectious disease is a public health problem in India and second largest cause of disability worldwide. There are 256 districts which are endemic for LF in 16 States and 5 UTs in India. For elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis, the national programme was launched in 2004 and it is based on twin-pillar strategies of Annual Mass Drug Administration (MDA) and Morbidity Management & Disability Prevention (MMDP). Since 2007, Annual Mass Drug Administration has been conducted using 2(two) drugs i.e. Albendazole and DEC.
To accelerate the elimination, GoI introduced Triple Drug Therapy wherein two existing MDA drugs were supplemented by a new drug ‘Ivermectin’. Triple Drug Therapy has an advantage of reducing microfilaria rate <1% in 2-3 rounds against 5-6 rounds required with two drugs.
In this regard, Simdega District of Jharkhand has been a pioneer in effectively carrying out the drug administration campaign. With 90.78% compliance rate, Simdega has emerged as a role model for remaining states and districts to learn. The district under the leadership of the Deputy Commissioner (DC) took it as a challenge to do everything possible to successfully execute IDA in the district. During the MDA, apart from the health department other departments i.e. education, rural livelihood, Women & Child Development, PRI Members, Local leaders, religious leaders etc. were involved in planning & implementation.
An innovation campaign “Bhag Filaria Bhag” was launched in the district for ELF. Three days awareness campaign was launched in all schools of the district. This infused a lot of interest among students and substantially built their understanding and awareness about the disease. Local media, newspapers, TV channels etc. were engaged to spread awareness about the programme. Multiple filarial booths were set up in the local schools and Anganwadi Centers to cover the big population in a hasslefree manner. Anganwadi Workers and Sahiyas (ASHAs – Accredited Social Health Activists) were identified and trained as drug administrators well in advance. Attendance of community people at the booths for consumption of drug was notable. Finger marking for the beneficiaries was introduced first time in the programme. For left out population, house to house visit plan was mapped. A micro plan was developed along with tracking registers around that to cover all the houses in the district.
With the innovative approach, under able leadership of district administration and with the support from development partners, Simdega district become an exemplar district with 90.78% reported coverage and 83.7% compliance (as per assessment conducted by ICMR-VCRC).