Open border main challenge to curb elephantiasis in KanchanpurElephantiasis is the second major infectious disease after leprosy to cause permanent and long-term disability in the country.
Kanchanpur started a campaign to eliminate elephantiasis seven years ago. But according to the District Health Office in Kanchanpur, the disease has not come under control, as very few patients take medicines regularly.
In the current fiscal year, one out of 300 individuals has shown symptoms of elephantiasis in Krishnapur, while the number stands at four out of 300 in Belauri. Health officials claimed that the campaign could not be effective as many patients of elephantiasis might have gone to India for employment during the drug’s administration.
“Due to the open border, we can’t keep track of all the patients and are unable to administer drugs to every one of them. They may enter the country anytime and transmit the disease to others,” said Siddharaj Bhatta, a public health officer. “Even educated people in the bazaar area don’t take medicines regularly. There’s a lack of awareness on the issue.”
The government has been launching Mass Drugs Administration Programme to reduce the number of elephantiasis patients in the affected districts. According to the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division under the Ministry of Health and Population, a campaign to administer Diethy-lcarbamasine and Albe-ndazole tablets to counter the disease is being launched in two phases.
Shivaraj Sunar, chief at the District Health Office, said the office plans to administer the drugs to 500,000 people through the local units in the current fiscal year.
“Last year, 74 percent of the total population in the district had taken the medicine,” said Sunar.
This year, the District Health Office is going to administer the drug in Kanchanpur from February 8. In Sudurpaschim, the campaign started in 2013, but the disease is yet to be controlled in Kailali and Kanchanpur. The campaign is ongoing in 13 Tarai districts for the eighth time. The country had aimed to reduce the number of elephantiasis patients to one percent by 2020. According to a study carried out across 37 districts in 2003, elephantiasis affected 13 percent of the total population of Nepal.
An area is said to free from elephantiasis when the number of infected reaches below one percent, according to the World Health Organisation.
Elephantiasis is the second major infectious disease after leprosy to cause permanent and long-term disability in the country. The disease is caused by small, threadlike parasitic worms spread by Culex female mosquitoes. These worms prosper in the human lymphatic system and cause the swelling of arms, legs, head, genitals or breasts.
According to the World Health Organisation, elephantiasis has affected 40 million people in 83 countries. Of the affected, one-third are in Africa and India each, while the rest are in other parts of South Asia. The WHO has made a worldwide commitment to eliminate the disease by 2020.