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Mass drug administration against lymphatic filariasis from tomorrow

Staff Reporter

DEC tablets have no side effects, say medical officers

MALAPPURAM: The second phase in the eradication of lymphatic filariasis in the State will begin on Friday. The health authorities are geared up for the mass drug administration to be implemented in 11 districts, including Malappuram.

The programme targets administration of anti-filariasis medicine to the entire population in the districts of Kozhikode, Malappuram, Kannur, Kasaragod, Palakkad, Thrissur, Ernakulam, Alappuzha, Kottayam, Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram. However, children below two years of age, pregnant women and those who are seriously ill will not be given the medicine.

Medical officers said here on Wednesday that mass drug administration was the only effective way to take on lymphatic filariasis, the presence of which has been alarmingly high particularly in coastal regions. Despite criticism from various quarters, the Government has decided to administer the medicine to all people irrespective of whether they are affected by this vector-borne disease or not, as mosquito control is not easy.

The District Medical Officer (DMO) M.K. Thankanathan and District TB Officer N.M. Sebastian on Wednesday clarified that diethylcarbamazine (DEC) tablets to be given against filariasis is safe. The drug, available in brands such as Tetrazan and Banocide, will have no harmful side-effects, they said.

They said DEC tablets would be given to 3,579,330 people in the district. Over one crore tablets have been stocked in public health centres for this. The Health Department has roped in 13,561 volunteers for the mass drug administration. There will be a supervisor for 10 volunteers each.

Rapid response teams have been formed in all primary health centres (PHCs). All 15 block PHCs will have a district-level programme officer each.

The doctors said special arrangements have been made in Adivasi and coastal areas. The services of organisations such as the Indian Medical Association (IMA), Rotary Clubs, Nehru Yuva Kendra and Kudumbasree units have been roped in for the project.

District Panchayat president Arimbra Mohammed will inaugurate the programme at the Community Health Centre on Friday morning.

The doctors pointed out that pregnant women, heart patients and those with damaged kidneys need not take the drugs. Children between two and five years of age can take one tablet, and those between six and 14 years of age can take two tablets. Adults have to take three tablets. The DEC should be taken only after food, they said.

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