Q What is Lymphatic Filariasis ?
- Lymphatic Filariasis , commonly known as elephantiasis and is considered as a Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD). It is the second most disabling disease after mental health.
- It impairs the lymphatic system and can lead to the abnormal enlargement of body parts, causing pain, severe disability and social stigma.
- The lymphatic system is a network of vessels and specialized tissues that are essential to maintaining the overall fluid balance and health of organs and limbs and, importantly, are a major component of the body’s immune defense system.
- Lymphatic filariasis is a vector-borne disease, caused by infection with parasites classified as nematodes (roundworms) of the family Filarioidea. There are 3 types of thread-like filarial worms which causes lymphatic filariasis:
- Wuchereria Bancrofti is responsible for 90% of the cases.
- Brugia Malayi causes most of the remainder of the cases.
- Brugia Timori also causes the disease.
Q How can it be treated ?
- The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends three drug treatments to accelerate the global elimination of lymphatic filariasis.
- The treatment, known as IDA, involves a combination of ivermectin, diethylcarbamazine citrate and albendazole.
- The plan is to administer these drugs for two consecutive years. The life of the adult worm is hardly four years, so it would die a natural death without causing any harm to the person.
Q What is prevalence of this disease in India ?
- Lymphatic filariasis poses a grave threat to India. An estimated 650 million Indians across 21 states and union territories are at risk of lymphatic filariasis.
- Over 40% of worldwide cases are found in India.
- The government launched the Accelerated Plan for Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis (APELF) in 2018, and as part of intensifying efforts towards elimination, later rolled out IDA treatment (triple drug therapy) in a phased manner.
Q What are some global initiatives to eradicate it ?
- WHO’s New Roadmap for 2021–2030: To prevent, control, eliminate and eradicate a set of 20 diseases, termed neglected tropical diseases, by 2030.
- Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (GPELF):
- In 2000, WHO established the GPELF to stop transmission of infection with Mass Drug Administration (MDA) and to alleviate suffering among people affected by the disease through morbidity manage-ment and disability prevention (MMDP).
- The target set by GPELF in 2000 to eliminate LF as a public health problem globally by 2020 was not achieved. Despite setbacks due to Covid-19, WHO will accelerate work to achieve this target by 2030.