Clean India Has to Focus on Health
This morning, Mail Today in New Delhi published an op-ed encouraging the integration of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) control and elimination in ongoing water management and sanitation campaigns throughout India. Written by Baijayant “Jay” Panda, a Member of Parliament in the Lok Sabha (lower house), the op-ed highlights India's high prevalence of NTDs, such as lymphatic filariasis and soil-transmitted helminths.
"Some estimates suggest that over 600 million people are at risk of contracting one or more NTDs in India.
"Unfortunately, our awareness of this issue is strikingly low. Perhaps the reason why NTDs have not captured the public imagination the way other health crises have is because they are often not fatal. However, this relatively low mortality rate masks the many grim consequences of being afflicted by NTDs.
"For example, lymphatic filariasis (LF) causes severe swelling of the limbs that keeps people from leading normal lives – or, in some cases, undertaking a job that might be the only means to support their families. Likewise, soil-transmitted helminths can sap the energy and health of children, and keep them from regularly attending school. Thus, NTDs cause disability, contribute to malnutrition and perpetuate poverty among those affected by them.
"Fortunately, India has invested significant time, technical capacity and financial resources to elimate and control NTDs. The serious nature of the effects of NTDs helps to explain why the government has adopted mass medication programmes aimed at controlling NTDs in the fvulnerable parts of the country. In 2012, the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme provided anti-NTDs medication to over 400 million people. Similarly, the National Deworming Day initiative saw 89 million children receive deworming medication in 2015."