Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Lymphatic Filariasis (LF)

Lymphatic Filariasis (LF)

#GS2 #Health related issues #Government Policies

Context: Recently, the Maharashtra government has started a drug administration drive for the elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) and become the first State in the country to resume giving rounds of the drug after the second wave of Covid-19.


  • Also called as elephantiasis, it is Caused by infection with parasitic worms classified as nematodes (roundworms) of the family Filarioidea living in the lymphatic system.
    • The lymphatic system is a network of vessels and specialized tissues that are essential to maintaining the overall fluid balance and health of organs and limbs and, importantly, are a major component of the body’s immune defence system.
  • The larval stages of the parasite (microfilaria) circulate in the blood and are transmitted from person to person by mosquitoes.
  • May Cause abnormal enlargement of body parts, and leading to severe disability and social stigmatization of those affected.
  • The parasites are transmitted by four main types of mosquitoes:
    • Culex, Mansonia, Anopheles and Aedes.
  • It is considered as a Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD). It is the second most disabling disease after mental health.
  • It impairs the lymphatic system and can lead to the abnormal enlargement of body parts, causing pain, severe disability and social stigma.
  • There are 3 types of thread-like filarial worms which causes lymphatic filariasis:
    • Wuchereria Bancrofti is responsible for 90% of the cases.
    • Brugia Malayi causes most of the remainder of the cases.
    • Brugia Timori also causes the disease.
  • In communities where filariasis is transmitted, all ages are affected.
  • While the infection may be acquired during childhood its visible manifestations such as limbs oedema may occur later in life, causing temporary or permanent disability.
  • Lymphatic filariasis affects over 120 million people in 72 countries throughout the tropics and sub-tropics of Asia, Africa, the Western Pacific, and parts of the Caribbean and South America.

Triple drug therapy:

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends three drug treatments to accelerate the global elimination of lymphatic filariasis.
  • The treatment, known as IDA, involves a combination of ivermectin, diethylcarbamazine citrate and albendazole.
  • The plan is to administer these drugs for two consecutive years. The life of the adult worm is hardly four years, so it would die a natural death without causing any harm to the person.

Scenario in India:

  • Lymphatic filariasis poses a grave threat to India. An estimated 650 million Indians across 21 states and union territories are at risk of lymphatic filariasis.
  • In endemic countries, lymphatic filariasis has a major social and economic impact.
  • Over 40% of worldwide cases are found in India.
  • The government launched the Accelerated Plan for Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis (APELF) in 2018, and as part of intensifying efforts towards elimination, later rolled out IDA treatment (triple drug therapy) in a phased manner.
  • Since 2004, two drug therapy for lymphatic filariasis has been in place but the addition of the third drug now will give a boost to the overall campaign.
  • India has missed earlier deadlines to eradicate the disease by 2015 and 2017.

Global Initiatives towards eliminating Lymphatic Filariasis:

  • WHO’s New Roadmap for 2021–2030: To prevent, control, eliminate and eradicate a set of 20 diseases, termed neglected tropical diseases, by 2030.
  • Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (GPELF):




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