We are joining hands for Lymphatic Filariasis elimination in Myanmar, will you?

723989 lymphatic filariasisBy Dr. Nay Yi Yi Linn, Deputy Director (Dengue/Filariasis)

Lymphatic Filariasis (LF), commonly known as elephantiasis is a neglected tropical disease transmitted to humans through the bite of mosquitoes. It is also one of the 17 neglected tropical diseases recognized by World Health Organization (WHO). Elephantiasis does not cause sudden death. The patients are physically disabled in long term and suffer mental, social and financial losses contributing to stigma and poverty.
Currently, 856 million people in 52 countries worldwide are at risk of Lymphatic Filariasis and require preventive chemotherapy to stop the spread of this parasitic infection. Among the 11 countries of the World Health Organization South East Asia region, Lymphatic Filariasis is endemic in 7 countries including Myanmar. The Global Plan for Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis (GPELF) was established by WHO. It aims to eliminate the Lymphatic Filariasis by 2020. Eliminating Lymphatic Filariasis can prevent unnecessary suffering and contribute to the poverty reduction. It can be eliminated by preventive chemotherapy with safe medicine combinations repeated annually for at least 5 years. In 2018, Myanmar covered all endemic states and region with 5 rounds of mass drug administration (MDA). Myanmar administered 32 million doses of preventive chemotherapy and raised the coverage from 87% to 93% of the eligible population who are living in endemic areas in 2017 and 2018 respectively. Of the 45 Filaria endemic districts, 10 districts required no more MDA. This year, MDA is planned to conduct in 200 townships of 12 states and regions (Yangon, Ayeyarwaddy, Bago, Mandalay, Magway, Sagaing, Tanintharyi, Kayin, Chin, Rakhine, Mon, Naypyitaw Union Territory) during 22-31 January 2019.
The Vector Borne Disease Control Programme in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar have just organized central level advocacy meeting. The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Sports, senior officials from the Ministry of Health and Sports, WHO staff, and partner organizations joined the advocacy meetings. Similar advocacy meetings have now been conducting in respective states and regions. This will help health staff and community leaders to create public awareness and get ready for adequate coverage of MDA. WHO has generously contributed Diethyl-carbamazine tablets (DEC) -worth 543.8 million kyats – and Albendazole -worth 739.5 million kyats which are donated from Eisai company (Japan) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), respectively. Government has allocated additional 733 million kyats for the distribution of drugs, production of guidelines, general management costs, impact analysis, treatment for those suffering from filariasis and community-based LF management.
The Ministry of Health and Sports has already developed township level microplans such as population to be covered by MDA and distribution of drugs to township level. It is very important to train responsible persons who are going to deliver the drugs and improve the community knowledge on drugs treatment. The Ministry of Health and Sports targets 100% MDA coverage. Myanmar Women’s Affairs Federation, Myanmar Maternal and Child Welfare Association and Myanmar Red Cross Society are also giving necessary support to implement the MDA.
The Ministry of Health and Sports also encouraged for increasing efforts in MDA, supervision and monitoring to make sure the consumption of drugs by community and urged all the government and non-government stakeholders can help to take preventive chemotherapy. All can help in raising awareness and disseminating the benefit of taking the drugs to eliminate LF in the communities and country.
Every eligible population needs to actively participate and takes the recommended dose of preventive chemotherapy yearly for Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis in Myanmar. We are joining hands for Lymphatic Filariasis elimination in Myanmar, will you?

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