GSK continues to donate Albendazole tablets in the fight to eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis in Fiji.
I was honoured to be invited and especially as a representative of GSK to the launch of the Lymphatic Filariasis Mass Drug Administration campaign at the Ministry of Health head quarters on Thursday 15th October 2015 in Suva. The launch was opened by Health Minister Jone Usamate who said “lymphatic filariasis commonly known as tauna in the iTaukei dialect has been a burden for several decades to the lives of Fijians, particularly those living in the rural areas”. GSK donate thousands of Albendazole tablets every year to support this invaluable programme protecting Fijians from this painful and profoundly disfiguring condition. This programme aims to cover the Eastern division, Taveuni in the Northern division and also the Malolo Island in the Western Division; these communities have recently been identified as Lymphatic Filariasis prevalent areas. The target of the programme this year is to treat 80% or more of these residents. This target is crucial in aiming to achieve the global and regional commitment made by the Ministry in 2001 of a prevalence rate of Lymphatic Filariasis to less than 1%.
Health Minister Jone Usamate taking his tablets.
In 2001 a prevalence rate of 16% was recorded with a repeat blood survey in 2007 showing a significant decrease to 9.6%, these figures prove that the donation of Albendozole by GSK to support this programme really does change people’s lives and the tablets only need to be administered annually…fantastic!! I felt privileged to witness such a life changing launch even though this is not part of my Pulse programme it is definitely part of the bigger picture and I couldn’t miss this opportunity to BLOG about the things we do that really do make a difference to people’s lives.
What is Lymphatic Filariasis?
Lymphatic Filariasis is caused by a microscopic worm ‘wucherera bancrofti’ and transmitted from an infected person via a mosquito to the next host. Lymphatic Filariasis infection mostly occurs in child hood causing hidden damage to the lymphatic system. Symptoms of this disease which appear later in adult life are elephantitis (swelling of the legs) hydrocoeles (swelling of the scrotum) and lymphodema (cycles of fever) which can lead to permanent disability and disfiguration.