By Staff Writer
Guyana has the chance to finally rid itself of Lymphatic filariasis as the second and final round of the Mass Drug Administration (MDA) sets to commence this month. Making the disclosure today, was the Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony.
According to the health official, the programme is scheduled to be launched on February 12, 2021, and will commence with the distribution of filaria pills in Regions Three and Four. The initiative will run for about two weeks, the Minister said, while noting that distribution will be done house to house.
“We expect that this programme will go on in these two regions for about two weeks. And then in early March, from the 1st of March to the 14th we will be looking at Regions Six and Ten. And starting from the 8th of March, we’ll then be looking at all the other regions. So, we’ll have teams going into all those regions,” the Minister outlined.
Once the programme is successful, the World Health Organization (WHO) would declare Guyana filaria-free, Dr Anthony said.
He explained that for the elimination of filaria to be successful, it is imperative that this second round of doses be administered before the completion of that two-year period when the first was given. That MDA was executed by the David Granger administration.
“We have identified that time period with PAHO (Pan-American Health Organisation), that’s why we are now rolling it out between February and March,” he explained.
The minister further explained that if 70% of the population takes the tablets, Guyana would be able to eliminate filaria.
“This is our chance to do so, and I do hope that persons cooperate with the persons who would be distributing the pills and take those tablets so we can eliminate filaria from Guyana once and for all,” he stressed.
Lymphatic filariasis impairs the lymphatic system and can lead to the abnormal enlargement of body parts, causing pain, severe disability and social stigma. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 893 million people in 49 countries worldwide remain threatened by lymphatic filariasis and require preventive chemotherapy to stop the spread of this parasitic infection.
In 2000, over 120 million people were infected, with about 40 million disfigured and incapacitated by the disease. Lymphatic filariasis can be eliminated by stopping the spread of infection through preventive chemotherapy with safe medicine combinations repeated annually. More than 7.7 billion treatments have been delivered to stop the spread of infection since 2000.