Public Health Ministry eyes total geographical coverage to eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis

DPI, Guyana, Monday, October 8, 2018

Mass Drug Administration (MDA) for the elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) is once again being rolled out in the four affected regions.

Trained pill distributors will spend two weeks in each region at specified starting dates in October to conduct the exercise administering two pills, diethylcarbamazine (DEC) and albendazole.

Pill Distributors will be in Region Three from October 1, Region Four from October 8, Region Five from October 15 and Region Ten from October 22.

Meanwhile, the Neglected Infectious Diseases (NID) Unit of the Ministry of Public Health, which achieved an 86 per cent coverage from last year’s MDA, is anticipating a 100 per cent coverage in the four regions for this round of its campaign.

Speaking at the launch of the MDA, National Coordinator of NIDs, Dr. Fabu Moses-Stuart related that worldwide initiatives utilizing the MDA strategy have been heralded as the most successful method of infectious disease prevention.

The official launch was held on Friday, October 5, 2018, at the Square of the Revolution where a brief MDA exercise was conducted for those in attendance.

Dr. Moses-Stuart also noted that the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) global programme for the elimination of lymphatic filariasis is one of its most successful.

“Billions of free medicines have been made available to over 70 countries since its inception in the year 2000… Indeed, when one considers data from the global burden of diseases studied over a ten-year period it is noted that there is a 63.5 per cent reduction worldwide of detectable microfilaremia,” Dr. Moses-Stuart said.

It was noted that Guyana still lags behind in the fight against LF in the Americas. “We are the only country yet to scale up to 100 per cent geographical coverage. I believe that we can do this and there is no better way to make a bold pronouncement to resolve, to eliminate lymphatic filariasis in Guyana than by our own community efforts.”

Dr. Moses-Stuart said if there is to be full coverage in all regions, there are a number of things that must be fostered including partnerships and intensified efforts. It would take a commitment from a wide range of stakeholders including the Ministries of Public Health, Education, Communities, donors, NGOs religious group, local authorities, private companies, community organisations, volunteers and many others.

“We must put the safety of our at-risk population at the helm of everything that we do and for that reason, we do not leave pills behind… It takes many years of dedicated efforts, education and strong communication to get this done.”

Also speaking at the event, on behalf of the Public Health Minister, Volda Lawrence, was Regional Health Officer of Demerara-Mahaica, Dr. Quincy Jones. He expressed optimism of the possibility of Guyana eliminating LF.

“The evidence is there that the elimination of filariasis in Guyana is not an elusive dream but a real possibility and thus someday an event like this will be held to declare that LF is no longer a public health problem or to say it has been arrested, convicted and sentenced to banishment.”

By: Delicia Haynes.

Images: Jameel Mohamed.


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