Actor Swwapnil Joshi has been roped in as the brand ambassador for elimination of lymphatic filariasis in Maharashtra by the state government's Public Health department. Lymphatic filariasis impairs the lymphatic system and can lead to the abnormal enlargement of body parts, causing pain, severe disability and social stigma. Over 31 million people in India are estimated to be infected with filariasis and over 29 million suffer from disability associated with the disease.
As of 2017, Maharashtra recorded 65,155 cases of filariasis, read a statement on Wednesday. The Maharashtra government, under the National Programme for Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis, will undertake Mass Drug Administration (MDA) in Nagpur from January 20. This MDA round will also mark the roll-out of the new Triple Drug Therapy to accelerate lymphatic filariasis elimination efforts. A third drug called Ivermectin will be added to the usual combination of two drugs - Diethylcarbamazine Citrate and Albendazole. "The time has come to make this ancient scourge a history. I am honoured to be able to contribute to this cause. 'Hathi rog' is an entirely preventable disease.
But few people know that. I wish to be able to play my part in changing the situation by encouraging people to have the government-administered medicines," Swwapnil said. "It is up to us, the people, to ensure that Maharashtra, and India, is free of filariasis," he added. In an official letter acknowledging Swwapnil as lymphatic filariasis champion, Joint Director of Health Services P.B. Bhoi, said: "You are among the most influential personalities in the state of Maharashtra. Your influence will not only help in creating awareness but will also instil confidence in masses toward the government-supported Mass Drug Administration programme."
(With inputs from agencies.)