Public Health Current Affairs

UP Government launches DASTAK campaign to eradicate Japanise Encephalitis

Uttar Pradesh Government has launched massive door to door “DASTAK campaign against Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) and Japanise Encephalitis (JE)” to eradicate deadly diseases from the state. It was launched in association with UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). DASTAK campaign is part of the comprehensive Social and Behaviour Change Communication (SBCC) strategy embraced by state government to beat encephalitis.

Key Facts

In DASTAK campaign, the whole state machinery with help of UNICEF will go door to door in 38 JES and AE affected districts, mostly falling in the Tarai region of state which contributes to about 60% of total AES cases all over the country. The war cry of DASTAK is Darwaja khatkhatao, AES aur JE ko bhagao.

In this massive campaign, most of the state departments including health, rural development, primary education will work together to spread awareness about the diseases through mass media communication, provide clean drinking water, initiate sanitation drive, ensure vaccination and early treatment to eradicate disease. Children of 600 schools in the affected areas will also be part of this campaign.

Japanese Encephalitis

Japanese encephalitis (JE) is a mosquito-borne flavivirus. It belongs to the same genus as dengue, yellow fever and West Nile viruses. The first case of JE was documented in 1871 in Japan. It primarily affects children. Most adults in endemic countries have natural immunity after childhood infection, but individuals of any age may be affected.

It is transmitted by rice field breeding mosquitoes (primarily Culex tritaeniorhynchus group). The mosquitoes transmit JE by feeding on domestic pigs and wild birds infected with the Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV). It is not transmitted from person-to-person. JE transmission mainly intensifies during the rainy season, during which vector populations increase.

Signs and symptoms of most JE infections are mild (fever and headache) or without apparent symptoms, but it may result in severe clinical illness. Moreover, severe infection is marked by quick onset, headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, stupor, occasional convulsions (especially in infants) etc. There is no specific therapy. Intensive supportive therapy is indicated.

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Government launches National Deworming initiative

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) launched National Deworming Initiative on the occasion of National Deworming Day (observed on 10 February). It aims to reach more than 32.2 crore children aged between 1 to 19 years to combat parasitic worm infections. This year it is fourth edition of National Deworming Day after it was launched in 2015.

National Deworming Day

The National Deworming Day is a single fixed-day approach to treating intestinal worm infections in all children aged 1- 19 years and is held on 10 February and 10 August each year. It aims to conduct mass deworming program to mobilize health personnel, state governments and other stakeholders to prioritize investment in control of Soil Transmitted Helminth (STH) infections—one of the most common infections.

Goal of the day is to deworm all preschool and school-age children between the ages of 1-19 years in order to improve their overall health, cognitive development, nutritional status and quality of life. On this day, Albendazole tablets are given to all targeted children. Dosage of half tablet to 1-2 years children and one full tablet for 2-19 years is given. It also spreads behaviour change practices in terms of cleanliness, hygiene, use of toilets, wearing shoes/chappals, washing hands etc. is also important to reduce incidents of re-infection.

Implementation of deworming programmes is led by the Union MoHFW. The Department of School Education and Literacy under the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) and Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) also collaborate to implement the day. Ministries of Panchayati Raj, Tribal Affairs, Drinking Water and Sanitation, Rural Development and Urban Development are also other key stakeholders.

STH or Parasitic worms infestation

Parasitic worms or Soil-Transmitted Helminths (STH) are among the most common infections worldwide that causing parasitic infestation with nutrient uptake in small children. STHs live in human intestines and consume essential nutrients meant for the human body. It causes complications among the children resulting in anaemia, malnutrition and improper mental and physical development. Each day, parasitic worms produce thousands of eggs which are passed in human faeces and spread to others by contaminating soil in areas where open defecation predominant and sanitation is poor.

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