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States » North

GHS organises workshop to sensitise about NTDs

Lucknow, Jan 28 (UNI) Health experts have expressed their concern about the neglected tropical diseases in the wake of the first NTD day to be observed in the world on January 30.
Global Health Strategies (GHS), organized a media sensitization workshop here on Tuesday on the first World Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) day.
Every year from now, January 30th will be observed as world NTD day globally as it marks the anniversary of the landmark 2012 London Declaration on NTDs which unified partners across sectors, countries and communities to push for greater investment and action on NTDs.
Dr. V. P. Singh, Additional Director, Department of Medical and Health, Uttar Pradesh government participating as the Chief Guest, the workshop fostered interest towards increased and informative NTD reportage and sensitized the people about the magnitude of NTDs in India – especially Uttar Pradesh.
The workshop was attended by representatives from the health department, NTD partners including World Health Organization (WHO), Project Concern International (PCI), PATH, CFAR and media persons.
NTDs are a group of debilitating and stigmatizing diseases, affecting the poorest, most vulnerable and the marginalized populations. These include; Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) (Hathipaon), Visceral Leishmaniasis (VL) (Kala-Azar), Leprosy (Kusht-Rog) and Dengue among others. Despite being preventable, NTDs continue to cause considerable suffering, deformity and disability to those affected.
India is home to the world’s largest absolute burden of NTDs and ranks first in incidence for each of the major NTDs. In light of this, the media workshop had dedicated sessions on significance of the first World NTD day, achievements, success stories and challenges around combating NTDs in Uttar Pradesh, gender dimension of NTDs and role of media in driving change – led by experts.
Mr. Sharat Pradhan, Senior Journalist focusing on the critical role of media, said, “It is time to bring the spotlight on NTDs to ensure that these issues receive attention and inspire action.” He also encouraged the journalists to generate awareness about the diseases to destigmatize NTDs and urged them to enhance the visibility of the activities and initiatives around World NTD day.
Dr. V. P. Singh, in his key address, highlighted the efforts the government has taken to eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis from UP.
He shared that earlier only 18 per cent to 28 per cent of those administered with Triple Drug Therapy (IDA) in UP actually consumed the medicine. This not only led to colossal wastage of resources but has also put a huge population at risk of the disease. This year, however, he stated that with sensitization efforts at the state level and active participation of partner NGOs and media, the MDA round in 19 districts and Triple drug therapy in 11 districts saw 65 per cent to 70 per cent consumption. Dr. Singh also informed that the next round of MDA shall be held in the month of February which shall cover the remaining 31 districts of 51 endemic districts of UP (during the first round of IDA, we have already covered 19 districts). With this kind of dedicated effort, Dr. Singh reiterated that the target of eliminating Lymphatic Filariasis from UP can be attained in two years’ time.
He further added that “Government of Uttar Pradesh is committed to eliminating NTDs from India by 2030. UP is the first state to successfully scale-up the new triple-drug regime or IDA in November 2019, with 11 districts in UP using the new drug regimen as part of the Government of India’s plan to accelerate efforts for elimination of LF.
He complimented all the state NTD partners and the state machinery for their work on addressing the burden of Filariasis. He further added that the media will have the tremendous role to play in conveying the correct messaging in the communities thereby strengthening the state government’s initiatives by ensuring greater awareness and focus on NTDs in the public narrative.”
Dr. Tanuj Sharma, State Coordinator, UP, World Health Organization shared the key achievements, progress and challenges around reduction of LF, VL and Leprosy disease burden in Uttar Pradesh. He shared that Government of Uttar Pradesh has been investing in improving surveillance, monitoring and access to preventive health services across the state. However, they highlighted the need to do more for building mass awareness about preventive strategies and highlight the role every individual could play to help curb NTDs.
PCI, an on-the-ground organization leading awareness activities on NTDs in UP, brought to the fore the significance of community participation such as involvement of Gram Pradhans, dissemination of messaging in schools etc. Mr. Dhruv Singh, State Program Manager, PCI stated that through PCI’s initiative, some government school children in a remote area participated in awareness drive and clicked pictures which were displayed as exhibit. The children were felicitated by the distinguished guests for their innovative ideas to highlight the issues surrounding NTDs.
Building off the need to focus on neglected tropical diseases, Dr. Saurabh Pandey Consultant NTD, KGMC, Lucknow highlighted that lack of awareness continues to be an impediment to address NTDs.
He highlighted some of the challenges at the community level include taboo, as many patients of leprosy would not admit to having it or reach medical facility for treating it due to denial; diagnosis- with limited attention in medical education, there are likely issues with timely diagnosis; lack or no availability of preventive vaccination and no rehabilitation. He urged the media to help demystify the issue.
Mr. Anuj Ghosh, Director, Global Health Strategies(GHS), in conclusion, mentioned that media plays a vital role in dissemination of health messaging through print and other mediums. As the population at risk of NTDs is large, hence varied ways messaging must be employed.
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