Carry out aggressive campaigns to end 'kala azar': Health Minister

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New Delhi, Apr 7: The Health Ministry today asked officials to carry out aggressive campaigns to meet the target of eliminating 'Kala Azar', also known as Black Fever, in endemic districts.

The Ministry also said a leprosy case detection drive, which is presently being undertaken in 50 endemic districts, will be expanded to 163 districts.

New Delhi

Health Minister J P Nadda, who reviewed national programmes for leprosy and kala azar, said an expert committee will be formed under the Chairpersonship of DG (ICMR) which will recommend introduction of Mycobacterium Indicus Pranii (MIP) vaccine in high leprosy endemic states.

"The Health Minister has directed for aggressive campaigns to be carried out for meeting the target dates for elimination of Kala Azar from the endemic districts.

"The Health Minister has also directed the ministry to work in close coordination with the states and review the progress made by the states in the next three months," an official statement said. Nadda was briefed on the progress made towards elimination of kala azar in affected states like Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand and eastern parts of Uttar Pradesh, covering issues including availability of the synthetic pyrethroid spray, manpower availability to operate the stirrup pumps, awareness campaigns and others.

While reviewing the National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP), Nadda was briefed on the various initiatives undertaken under the programme. In order to improve detection of new cases of leprosy, an intensive house-to-house leprosy case detection drive has been conducted in 50 high endemic districts in states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh.

While more than 60,000 new cases were detected through this drive, officials said an online reporting software with patient-tracking facility is being developed which will assist in more effective tracking and monitoring of the cases.

"The Union Health Minister has directed that the active case detection drive shall be expanded to cover 163 districts, while the drive shall continue in the present 50 districts," the statement said. A taskforce with various stakeholders from different ministries has been formed for mainstreaming of leper colonies.

Stressing the need for enhancing awareness about the disease and sensitising people on social stigma surrounding it, Nadda also directed officials to initiate a high visibility multimedia IEC campaign to be undertaken in these states among the affected communities along with capacity building of the medical and paramedical staff.

Health Secretary B P Sharma, DG ICMR Saumya Swaminathan and other senior officials were present during the meeting.

PTI

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