Health campaigns are commonly deployed strategies for tackling high-priority public health issues in India. Current and previously implemented campaigns in the country include immunization programs, mass drug administration (MDA) for soil-transmitted helminthiases (STH) and lymphatic filariasis (LF), and indoor residual spraying for visceral leishmaniasis (VL) and malaria. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to reduced field activities, deferring and cancelling planned campaigns. Integration of campaigns targeting the same population has become essential so multiple health interventions can be provided in a single visit.
For this study, PATH India explored collaborative planning approaches for integrating mass drug administration (MDA) campaigns for LF and STH, along with understanding how the learnings from India’s Pulse Polio immunization campaign could be effectively used to create a robust integrated campaign.
LF and STH are serious public health problems in India; approximately 630 million people live in LF-endemic areas, and 241 million children are at risk of STH. LF elimination campaigns are underway in endemic areas of the country. MDA for STH is more diffused and is often integrated into existing services, such as school health activities. LF and STH MDA are candidates for integration because:
LF and STH campaign integration may be hindered by a lack of political will at the national and state level. The LF campaign is limited to endemic districts and only conducted once a year, whereas STH campaigns are conducted twice annually across all the districts, which may result in differing opinions between policy makers and program officers about the feasibility of integration. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic and other emergencies may weaken prioritization of an integrated campaign.