KATHMANDU, Feb 2: This year´s campaign against lymphatic filariasis, better known as elephantiasis, began in 56 districts, including three districts of the Kathmandu Valley, on Saturday.
During the four-day campaign, Epidemiology and Disease Control Division at the Department of Health Services (DoHS) targets to administer anti-elephantiasis medicine to all but pregnant women, children below two years of age and ailing people.
The DoHS has deployed Female Community Health Volunteers (FCHVs), among other health workers, through District Public Health Offices (DPHOs) to conduct the anti-elephantiasis campaign.
As part of the campaign, Diethylcarbamazine (DEC) and Albendazole tablets will be distributed in the targeted districts.
After many people reportedly fell sick after taking anti-elephantiasis medicine last year, the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) has taken extra precautions to ensure that pregnant women, children below two years, and ailing people are not administered the medicine this year.
“Pregnant women, ailing people and under-two children may suffer several complications if they take anti-elephantiasis drugs,” said Shree Krishna Bhatta, the chief of Kathmandu District Public Health Office. “As for the rest, these drugs would be effective to protect people from being infected with elephantiasis.”
In Kathmandu district, where the total population stands at around 1.7 millions according to the census report-2011, the Kathmandu DPHO aims to administer around 1.5 million people with anti-elephantiasis drugs. “The rest are likely to be deemed unsuitable for taking anti-elephantiasis drugs,” said Bhatta.
Health officials say an alarmingly high number of Nepal´s population have been infected with elephantiasis. But, not all of them have suffered from complications like physical disabilities.
The MoHP has been carrying out anti-elephantiasis campaign since 2003. In five districts, the MoHP has successfully run the campaign for five years. In Kathmandu, this is the fourth year of the campaign.