Drug compliance: Karnataka misses filariasis target

DHO Dr Shivaraj Sajjan Shett. (DH Photo)

Ideally, the state must have eradicated filariasis by 2011. The reluctance by a few to pop pills following adverse reactions has led to a delay in achieving this goal. The state currently as 14,200 chronic cases of filariasis according to statistics provided by officials at the Department of Health and Family Welfare.

Following the complaints such as gastritis, pain in the joints, fever and nausea after consuming the drug, the consumption of drugs by the susceptible population was minimal.

Consumption of drugs

Mass administration of drugs started in 2004 in nine high endemic districts. 

Kalaburagi, Bidar, Yadgir, Raichur, Vijayapura, Bagalkot, Uttara Kannada, Dakshina Kannada and Udupi are known to be endemic for filariasis. While three districts have achieved the target set by the Department of Health and Family Welfare, the others remain behind. Sources in the department said that it is a reluctance to take medicines that have hampered the progress.

“During their door-to-door visit, the health workers even met people who were not affected by the disease. They had to take four tablets each. We saw people were reluctant in the initial few rounds,” said Dr Sajjan Shetty, joint director, National Vector-borne Disease Control Programme, Department of Health and Family Welfare.

“The medications are to be taken after having a meal. When health workers visited households in the affected districts, people would ask the workers to give them the tablets saying that they would take drugs after eating food. They would not take these pills later,” said Dr Shetty.

Reactions

The department has already conducted 15 rounds of administering medicine, but filariasis continues to surface. However, the number of cases is on the decline.

“People complained of some gastritis-like symptoms, joint pains, rashes, fever and nausea after consuming the drug. It was believed to be a reaction to medications. In reality, if there is the microfilaria in blood, even among the healthy-looking people, there is a reaction,” he said.

The initial compliance rate, he said was 50%, and has now gone up to 80%. 

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