Dr. K. N. Panicker, Professor Emeritus, Department of Community Medicine, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and Chair of Indian Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases visited Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from September 24- 26, 2018, on an invitation from NTD NGO Network to participate in the 9th NTD NGO Network (NNN) Annual Conference. He was a guest speaker in the Global Forum for Filariasis, Leprosy and other NTDs. The major theme of discussion in this forum was morbidity management, disability prevention and rehabilitation of patients with either of these diseases. In this context, the Indian experience of the Amrita - iNTD was of major attraction during the discussions in the forum.
Dr. K. N. Panicker said, “As an Amrita iNTD initiative a rehabilitation programme of disabled lymphoedema patients was already been in force in Cherthala, Kerala, India, which is the well-known endemic pocket for Brugian filariasis for centuries. The core activity is to provide micro finance to filarial patients to start some income generating activity. There are hundreds of such diseased individuals leading a miserable life when they are abandoned by their kith and kin. In order to make them independent they were introduced into varied small scale income generating activity. Patients were provided with some seed money for initiating poultry, goat rearing, cattle rearing, tailoring and small scale vending. The profit is to be shared among patients for new ventures. The uniqueness of the program is that the financial support for the entire activity came from a local corporate K Chittilappilly Foundation. This private partnership is a strategy advocated by organisations such as World Health Organization (WHO) and The Global Alliance to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (GAELF). This rehabilitation project attracted the attention of all gathered in the global forum especially the committed international donor agencies. Thus Amrita/iNTD experience turned out to be a role model for rehabilitation of disabled filarial patients at the global level.”