Albendazole a safe drug for deworming; there is no need for panic: J P Nadda

Albendazole a safe drug for deworming; there is no need for panic: J P Nadda 

In view of reports in the media regarding some children complaining of nausea, gastric irritation and giddiness on being administered Albendazole tablets as part of the nationwide deworming initiative, the Union Minister for health & Family Welfare Shri J P Nadda assured that Albendazole 400 mg is a safe and effective drug for the treatment of parasitic worms. It is approved by the World Health Organization for treatment of worms and used globally. The Minister said: “A total of 236 children among a target of 27 crore children have reported some mild adverse events from states of Bihar, Chattisgarh, Haryana, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. The children were hospitalised, kept under observation and discharged without any major or serious complications. This is as per our standard protocol”. He assured that there is no need to panic. Such adverse incidences are noticed when the worm load is high among the children. Care needs to be taken that the children are administered this drug in presence of teachers or guardians, the Health Minister advised. 

The National Deworming Day, a flagship initiative of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, was observed on 10 February 2016. It is the largest ever single-day public health campaign in the world targeting approximately 27 crore children aged 1-19 year throughout the country at risk of parasitic worm infection, through the platform of schools and anganwadi centres. The target population includes 8 crore and 19 crore children in the age group of 1-5 and 6-19 years respectively across 561 districts of the country. Over 900,000 education and health workers administered Albendazole tablet to crores of children in schools and anganwadis across India yesterday. 137 districts in 14 States have been excluded from the deworming initiative this year as they have already covered during Mass Drug Administration in Lyphatic Filarsis program of the Health Ministry. Robust systems of monitoring have been instated and health workers trained to administer the deworming tablets. 
Shri J P Nadda launches the National Framework for Elimination of Malaria

India stands committed to eliminating Malaria by 2030: J P Nadda 
“India stands committed to eliminating Malaria and is committed to allocating infrastructure and financial resources to this task”, said Shri J P Nadda, Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare, here today. The Health Minister launched the National Framework for MalariaElimination (NFME) 2016-2030, which outlines India’s strategy for elimination of the disease by 2030.

Speaking on the occasion he said, “This framework has been developed with a vision to eliminate malaria from the country and contribute to improved health and quality of life and alleviation of poverty”. The Minister stated that the NFME document clearly defines goals, objectives, strategies, targets and timelines and will serve as a roadmap for advocating and planning malaria elimination in the country in a phased manner. Necessary guidance is expressed for rolling out the strategies and related interventions in each State/UT as per respective epidemiological situation.

Terming the launch of the national framework for elimination of Malaria by 2030 as historic in view of the public health challenge posed by mosquito-borne illnesses, Shri B P Sharma, Secretary (HFW) highlighted the importance of the segmented approach in tackling the issue. Eliminating Malaria will result in cutting down on expenditure on diseases control programme, and will help in reducing out-of-pocket expenditure too, he noted. He also added that the India has sturdy health systems with trained manpower, and the learning from the Polio and Elimination of Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus will help in eliminating Malaria too. He said that while diagnostic kits and medicines are available everywhere, the delivery mechanism has to be streamlined for better outcomes.

The objectives of the NFMEare to: 1) eliminate malaria from all low (Category 1) and moderate (Category 2) endemic states/UTs (26) by 2022; 2) reduce incidence of malaria to less than 1 case per 1000 population in all States/UTs and the districts and malaria elimination in 31 states/UTs by 2024; 3) interrupt indigenous transmission of malaria in all States/ UTs (Category 3) by 2027; 4) prevent re-establishment of local transmission of malaria in areas where it has been eliminated and to maintain malaria-free status of the country by 2030. The milestones and targets are set for 2016, 2020, 2022, 2024, 2027 and 2030 by when the entire country has sustained zero indigenous cases and deaths due to malaria for 3 years and initiated the processes for certification of malaria elimination status to the country.

The NFME 2016-2030 also defines key strategic approaches such as programme phasing considering the varying malaria endemicity in the country; classification of States/UTs based on API as primary criterion (Category 0: Prevention of re- introduction phase; Category 1: Elimination phase; Category 2: Pre-elimination phase; Category 3: Intensified control phase); district as the unit of planning and implementation; focus on high endemic areas; and special strategy for P. vivax elimination. An enabled environment and necessary resources would remain critical to realize the objectives in the pathway to malaria elimination.

In the short-term, i.e. by end of 2016, all states/UTs are expected to include malaria elimination in their broader health policies and planning framework; by end of 2017, all states are expected to bring down API to less than 1 per thousand population; and by end of 2020, 15 states/UTs under category 1 (elimination phase) are expected to interrupt transmission of malaria and achieve zero indigenous cases and deaths due to malaria. It is also envisaged that in states with relatively good capacity and health infrastructure, such as, Gujarat, Karnataka and Maharashtra, accelerated efforts may usher malaria elimination sooner - within two to three years. As per the targets under the 12th Five Year Plan, the country is to achieve API<1 2017="" and="" at="" br="" by="" district="" elimination="" in="" level="" malaria="" nbsp="" pave="" state="" subsequent="" to="" way="" years.="">
Dr. NafsiahMboi, Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance (APLMA) Envoy stated that the launch of the document demonstrates renewed commitment and strategic thinking on India’s part, and is a significant effort for the malaria elimination efforts and goals of the region and globally also. She highlighted the importance of community mobilization and sustenance of momentum of efforts. The elimination will produce multiple benefits, she said, adding that it will help to build systems to fight other mosquito-borne illnesses also.

The importance of this effort for Asia Pacific region was echoed by Dr. PoonamKhetrapal Singh, Regional Director, SEARO, WHO. She emphasized that investment on malaria control and prevention activities will result in almost 20 times gains in reducing healthcare cost in addition to bringing down the burden of diseases.

Acknowledging India’s leadership in the region in the health sector, Dr. Mark Dybul, Executive Director, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM)congratulated India on its various successes in the health sector, and stated that India’s efforts in eliminating Malaria is key to the global efforts in this direction. Also present at the launch function were senior officers of the Health Ministry including Dr. Jagdish Prasad, Director General of Health Services, Dr. SoumyaSwaminathanam, Secretary, Department of Health Research (DHR), and Shri K.B. Agarwal, Additional Secretary, MoHFW. 

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