Eisai India’s Initiatives for Eliminating Lymphatic Filariasis

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March 29, 2024

Eisai signed a joint statement with the World Health Organization (WHO) in November 2010 to provide diethylcarbamazine (DEC) tablets, a treatment for lymphatic filariasis (LF), for free of charge. After product development, production and distribution of high-quality DEC tablets commenced in 2013 at Eisai Pharmaceuticals India Pvt. Ltd’s (Eisai India) Vizag Plant (Vizag) located in Andhra Pradesh, India. Since then, our employees at Vizag have been working to eliminate LF and improve well-being of LF patients in nearby villages. After successful LF elimination activities in Yarada village, Vizag employees expanded LF elimination initiatives to other villages. They are working closely with local government departments, such as municipalities, to support village sanitation, mass drug administrations (MDA), and the medical camps* for LF patients. Mr. Joseph Kiran Kumar from Eisai India talked about Vizag’s LF elimination activities.

Joseph Kiran Kumar, Head of IT, hhc & CSR Manager, Eisai India

As employees, we feel very proud and motivated to contribute to LF elimination in our country through the free provision of DEC tablets as well as activities such as MDA support, disease awareness activities, and maintenance of sanitation. 

Activities During COVID-19

During the COVID-19, LF cases increased in the Vijayanagaram district, located in the north-eastern Andhra Pradesh in southern India, as a result of less LF elimination activities due to the pandemic. Vizag received a request from the district medical and health department to support LF elimination. Since Vizag employees were not able visit the villages in person, we contacted villagers through phone or video calls to explain the precautions against COVID-19, and provided them necessary items such as hand sanitizers, face masks, and disinfection liquids. Through communications with the villagers, we learnt that the comorbidities were increasing among the LF patients, and immediately requested the public health centers and district-level hospitals to support these patients. After the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, we have been visiting the villages and working with the public health department to eliminate LF.

New Initiatives

A village where Vizag employees are working on LF elimination, has a high number of LF patients. LF patients can easily get secondary infections which may cause severe pain to them. Therefore, we are working with the public health center to set up medical camps and provide morbidity kits to reduce the patients’ pain. We also found out that many villagers in the countryside find it difficult to read or understand how people can be infected by LF and other vector-borne diseases. So, we are planning to hold street plays to educate people instead of just providing them with a leaflet to raise disease awareness. Street plays will be held in Telugu, the local language, to reach as many people as possible.

Photos taken at the medical camps
Working with the Government and Non-Profit Organizations

We are very committed to raise awareness and support the MDAs in collaboration with government agencies. When we interact with patients and villagers, we always explain the importance of taking medicines during the MDA, because villagers hesitate to take medicines thinking that there are some side effects. Working with the local health care workers, we explain about the medicines and suggest everyone to take medicines in order to achieve LF elimination in the villages.
In 2024, Eisai India has started working with an organization called PCI India, to deepen and expand disease awareness. They are working towards increasing LF awareness in India, with a focus on urban and rural areas to enhance disease awareness and leverage better solutions.

Our initiatives are not limited the free provision of DEC tablets and MDA support. During Eisai India’s work in Yarada and Kasimkota villages, we have learnt that LF patients were walking barefoot because it was hard for them to find shoes which fit their feet. To address this issue, we have provided custom-made footwear to LF patients in Yarada and Kasimkota villages so that they can avoid secondary infection which is likely to occur when patients walk barefoot.

Through our socialization with LF patients this year, we relearned that there are severely affected LF patients with foot deformities who need custom-made footwear. So, applying our experience in Yarada and Kashimkota, we are planning to prepare custom-made footwear to distribute to affected patients.

Photos taken with patients and provision of custom-made footwear

As employees, we feel very proud and motivated to contribute to LF elimination in our country and nearby communities. When we meet the patients, we get an opportunity to know them and understand their concerns, and then we try our best to address these issues. Based on our hhc concept, we will keep working on LF elimination to contribute to the patients, their families and the people at risk of infection. Our journey will continue until India achieves LF elimination as a country. 

*An event organized for patients to get checked whether they have any additional medical concerns in addition to LF. The doctors provide medical examinations and prescribe medicines to patients if needed.