Maharashtra to roll out WHO recommended triple-drug therapy for lymphatic filariasis

Maharashtra government is going to launch  the World Health Organization (WHO)-recommended triple-drug therapy for lymphatic filariasis to speed up elimination of the disease.

  • A pilot project was rolled out in Nagpur on December 20, 2019. While Nagpur is one of the six high-prevalence areas, the therapy may be rolled out in other areas in future.
  • Maharashtra Government currently has a two-drug regimen consisting of diethylcarbamazine citrate and albendazole.  In the triple-drug regimen, a drug called ivermectin will be added. 

About Lymphatic filariasis

  • Lymphatic filariasis is commonly known as elephantiasis.
  • It is a neglected tropical disease.
  • As per  the WHO, its infection occurs when filarial parasites are transmitted to humans through mosquitoes. The infection is usually acquired in childhood, causing hidden damage to the lymphatic system.
  • Lymphatic filariasis impairs the lymphatic system and can lead to the abnormal enlargement of body parts, causing pain, severe disability and social stigma.
  • 856 million people in 52 countries worldwide remain threatened by lymphatic filariasis and require preventive chemotherapy to stop the spread of this parasitic infection.
  • Lymphatic filariasis is caused by infection with parasites classified as nematodes (roundworms) of the family Filariodidea. There are 3 types of these thread-like filarial worms:
    1. Wuchereria bancrofti, which is responsible for 90% of the cases
    2. Brugia malayi, which causes most of the remainder of the cases
    3. Brugia timori, which also causes the disease.
  • WHO launched its Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (GPELF) in 2000. In 2012, the WHO neglected tropical diseases roadmap reconfirmed the target date for achieving elimination by 2020.

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