Guyana aiming to be filaria-free in 2021

− final mass drug programme in February

The Ministry of Health will introduce its final mass drug administration (MDA) programme in February to eliminate the infectious tropical disease lymphatic filariasis/filaria. Once the programme is successful, the World Health Organization (WHO) would declare Guyana filaria-free.  

The treatment has to be administered through two MDA exercises. With the second to be done in the new year, the Ministry would have covered at least 70 per cent of the population, which would allow Guyana to be declared free of the disease.

Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Frank Anthony

“There are some medicines that will be coming around and being offered to people. We have to ensure that people drink these medicines. We had one that was done last year across the country; now we have to do the second one which we are planning to do in February,” Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Frank Anthony told DPI recently. 

A 2001 WHO survey in Guyana revealed a high prevalence of filaria disease in Regions Three, Four, Five and Ten. The Ministry implemented the MDA programme in Guyana in 2018. 

According to the WHO, it was anticipated that by 2019, all communities with a filaria prevalence would have benefited from preventative treatment. However, the plan was derailed by the ongoing Covid pandemic. 

“To do the treatment protocol, it requires literally thousands of people working together to make that happen. I am very optimistic that everybody would collaborate and cooperate with us to get rid of this disease,” Dr. Anthony said.

The Minister added that his team is focused on ensuring that Guyana is filaria-free.  “That’s our plan for Filaria, to eliminate it from Guyana in 2021.” 

Filaria is transmitted from person to person through mosquito bites. The most apparent symptom of filaria is chronic swelling, or elephantiasis, which is swelling of the legs, arms, scrotum, vulva, and breasts. The disease is treated with Diethlycarbamazine(DEC) and Albendazole(ALB).