The government today started a mass drug campaign against lymphatic filariasis in 12 districts of the country. Lymphatic filariasis is commonly known as elephantiasis.

Lymphatic filariasis is a neglected tropical disease. Infection occurs when filarial parasites are transmitted to humans through mosquitoes. This infection is usually acquired in childhood causing hidden damage to the lymphatic system. It impairs the lymphatic system and can lead to the abnormal enlargement of body parts, causing pain and severe disability.

Elephantiasis is a non-curable diseases and the prevention is the best way to remain safe from it. Swelling of body parts, and legs are the most commonly affected part, tissue/skin thickening, scrotal swelling and vast enlargement of the affected area when elephantiasis develops into chronic conditions. The skin of the affected areas usually becomes dry and ulcerated, pitted and darkened when it becomes severe.

Although mass drug administration is carried out to prevent and control this disease every year, it has not yet come under control. The campaign has not become much effective as people refuse to take the medicine due to the misconception that it causes side effects.

The Ministry of Health and Population is administering the DEC (diethylcarbamazine citrate) and deworming tablets (albendazole) tablets in the 12 highrisk districts of the country from today.

Director of the Department of Health Services, Epidemiology and Disease Control Division Dr Krishna Prasad Poudel said the drugs were being administered to 7.45 million people of 129 local units in Jhapa, Morang, Dhankuta, Bara, Lamjung, Parbat, Baglung, Kapilbastu, Dang, Banke, Bardiya and Kailali districts.

These districts have been identified as high risk districts.

According to him, 5,400 health workers and 9,500 female health volunteers have been mobilised for the mass drug administration campaign. The health workers will reach the doorsteps of the people and administer drugs for ten days. Dr Poudel urged one and all to take the drugs without any hesitation. Nepal has been administering these drugs since 2009 for prevention and control of elephantiasis.

A version of this article appears in the print on April 3, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.