10th Meeting of Global Alliance to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis inaugrated

NC Network, New Delhi
J P Nadda, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare inaugurated the 10th meeting of Global Alliance to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (GAELF), in Delhi on Wednesday. During his inaugural address, Nadda said that India as a Global leader is committed to eliminating Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) transmission and disease burden so that our future generations are free from Lymphatic Filariasis. He further stated that India will always welcome newer initiatives and research to translate into the Filariasis elimination programme. 

At the event, Nadda also gave away the GAELF awards to 11 countries- Cambodia, Cook Islands, Egypt, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Niue, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Togo, Tonga and Vanuatu, for successfully interrupting the transmission. The Union Health Minister also released the Accelerated Plan for Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) 2018 for India.

Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Dr. Karen Cummings, Hon’ble Minister of Guyana, Prof. Balram Bhargava, Secretary DHR & DG-ICMR, Prof. Charles Mackenzie, Chair GAELF, Dr. Promila Gupta, Director General of Health Services and Dr. Jonathan King, WHO Head Quarter, also graced the occasion.

Addressing the participants, Nadda said that significant progress towards the filariasis elimination has been made by India. “With the concerted efforts of Government, state governments and development partners, 100 districts out of total 256 endemic districts have achieved elimination target and stopped Mass Drug Administration after successful validation by Transmission Assessment Survey (TAS) and are under post MDA surveillance,” he added.

The Union Health Minister further said that the strategy to eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis  in India is based on twin pillars of Mass Drug Administration (MDA) once in a year for interruption of transmission i.e no new case and to cater to the patients already afflicted with the disease with morbidity management. Nadda further said that there is also an urgent need for total integration of different departments for mobilizing the community.  I am sure “Accelerated Plan for Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis 2018” released today will also expedite the last leap for elimination of LF,” Nadda stated.

Ashwini Kumar Choubey stated that it is critical to enhance awareness among the affected communities about the disease and its treatment. “I am sure during 3 days deliberations, experts will come out with pragmatic approach towards elimination of LF. There is a need to all stakeholders to work in integrated manner in order to eliminate lymphatic filariasis as public health problem,”Choubey said.

Lymphatic Filariasis or commonly known as Elephantiasis is one of the oldest and most debilitating neglected disease, which is currently endemic in 73 countries of the world, including India. LF disease is caused mainly by Wuchereria Bancrofti and spread by Culex mosquito. This mosquito grows in dirty accumulated water. The disease affects the poorest population in society, particularly those living in areas with poor water, sanitation and hygiene. LF does not kill the affected people, but may cause permanent disfigurement, reduced productivity and social stigma.

GAELF is an alliance of partners from 72 LF endemic national country programmes, NGOs, private sectors, academic and research institutes and international development agencies that assists WHO's Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis and was formed in year. Since then the meeting are held biennially. The second meeting was held in 2002 in Delhi and India is again hosting the 10th meeting which recognizes that India has highest burden of Lymphatic Filariasis and there is need of taking leadership role to Eliminate lymphatic filariasis.  Participation of LF programme managers in this meeting will provide an insight of larger global programme and enable them join discussion and contribute to solutions.

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