Ministry launches national campaign to eliminate filariasis

– final distribution exercise starts Monday

The Ministry of Health launched the final distribution exercise of the National Elimination Campaign for Lymphatic Filariasis at the Umana Yana, Kingston, Georgetown today.

This exercise is the last of the mass drug administration (MDA) programme to distribute the final dose of medication to eliminate lymphatic filariasis in Guyana.   

Minister of Health, Hon. Dr Frank Anthony

During the launch, Minister, Hon. Dr Frank Anthony said once the programme is successful, Guyana will be declared free of filaria by the World Health Organization (WHO).

“We can prevent [everybody] in this country from ever again getting filaria. That is the exercise that we are doing, this is why we are launching this exercise, because we can prevent that from happening. So, once we complete this exercise, nobody in Guyana should ever have to deal with filaria again.”

The medication to eliminate filariasis in Guyana.

The exercise is expected to conclude by May.

Over the last year, some 1,400 pill distributors, 170 field officers, 20 regional coordinators and eight national supervisors were trained to conduct the exercise.

From next Monday, the teams would be deployed to various communities in Regions Three and Four to distribute the pills.  The exercise is initially being rolled out in these regions as they are more densely populated, before it is expanded to the other eight administrative regions. The distribution exercise will last two weeks in each region.

Some of the officers in the filaria campaign

The public is expected to consume the pills in the presence of the distribution officers.

Minister Anthony expressed confidence in the officers distributing the pills and charged them to educate people on the importance of taking them as they conduct the exercise.

“We believe strongly that we will be able, with the help of the persons who are working on this, to be able to go out to the various communities. Talk to people, educate them and to ensure that they have the appropriate information so that they will want to take their tablets,” he said.

Merundoi performing a skit on the importance of taking the filaria tablets

Minister Anthony noted that the success of the programme requires a collaborative effort and co-operation from all stakeholders.  He called on representatives at the neighbourhood and regional democratic councils, faith-based organisations and at the level of political parties to do their part to help eliminate filaria.   

The MDA programme to supress filaria started in Guyana in October 2019.  Once 70 per cent of the population has been covered, Guyana would be eligible for certification from the WHO that filaria has been eliminated here.  This last lap of the distribution will be done in compliance with the gazetted COVID-19 measures.

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