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Over 1,300 fall ill at filariasis vaccination drive in Jharkhand; villagers attack health staff

Jharkhand’s health department had launched a six-day MDA programme (from April 10 to April 16) to vaccinate 2.36 crore people in filariasis-affected districts of the state in order to eliminate the disease by 2020.

ranchi Updated: Apr 15, 2019 16:17 IST
Subhash Mishra
Subhash Mishra
Hindustan Times, Dhanbad
jharkhand,filariasis,mass drugs administration campaign in jharkhand
A female health staff member distributing anti-filariasis tablets to villagers at Boryo block in Sahebganj district, Jharkhand, Saturday, April 14, 2019. (HT Photo )

More than 1,300 individuals, including children, fell ill across 16 districts of Jharkhand after taking medication given under the Mass Drugs Administration (MDA) campaign for elimination of filariasis.

The health department had launched a six-day MDA programme (from April 10 to April 16) to vaccinate 2.36 crore people in filariasis-affected districts in order to eliminate the disease from the state by 2020.

The reports that reached the state headquarters from different districts said that 1,308 people fell ill after consuming the MDA campaign drugs in four days, out of which 433 cases were reported in Gumla district alone. In West Singhbhum, 304 cases were reported; 148 in Hazaribagh; and 117 in Sahibganj.

Jharkhand nodal officer of Vector-Borne Disease Control Programme, Dr Vijay Natha Khanna, on Sunday said, “Reaction of drugs is natural. The drugs would react on those who have filarial parasite in their body. As the drug kills the parasite, it triggers complications like fever, vomiting and headache. So it is not a serious health problem,” he said.

However, rattled by the complications to children after administration of Mass Drugs, villagers attacked health personnel involved in the MDA campaign in different parts of the state.

On Saturday, irate villagers of Panchgarh village under Borio block of Sahibganj district attacked female health staff members Gitanjali Saha and Rekha Devi after the condition of a five-year-old boy named Suraj Kumar deteriorated.

However, the district malaria officer (Sahibganj) Dr Vijay Hansda and official Satibabu rescued the health staff from the angry villagers and admitted the boy at Sadar hospital on Saturday night. After the incident, 2,800 health personnel of Sahibganj, involved in campaign, are now fearful about administering drugs to children.

“We have already constituted Rapid Response Teams (RRT) in all the nine blocks of the district. Whenever a complaint comes from any corner of district, an RRT reaches there and takes the affected person to the hospital,” said Dr Hansda.

A supervisor of the campaign, engaged in Gumla district, said that sahiyas (assistants) and sevikas (helpers) were having a tough time at Aanganwadi Kendras, trying to convince people to take the filariasis vaccine.

First Published: Apr 15, 2019 16:16 IST