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PIA Press Release
Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Sarangani launches filariasis elimination campaign

by CT Apelacio

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, South Cotabato, Jan. 18 (PIA) -- The provincial government of Sarangani through its Provincial Health Office (PHO) is stepping up its campaign on the elimination of filariasis (lymphatic filariasis) in the entire province.

On Monday, Jan. 16, the province launched its campaign at Nomoh Integrated School in Maasim town.

Funded by the Sagittarius Mines, Incorporated (SMI), the P1-million campaign will be implemented throughout the province, said the Provincial Information Office.

Governor Mig Dominguez said the province will continue to fight filariasis and other debilitating diseases stressing on the importance of partnership with other stakeholders—the national government agencies, non-governmental organizations and even the private sectors.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), lymphatic filariasis, commonly known as elephantiasis, is a painful and profoundly disfiguring disease.

The disease is caused by three species of worms, known as filariae. The three species are Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi and Brugia timori. The infection is usually manifested later in life, even if it was acquired during childhood.

Filariae are transmitted by mosquitoes with infective larvae. When a mosquito bites a human host, the parasites are deposited on the person’s skin which later enter the body and migrate to the lymphatic vessels, causing damage, swelling of the vessels and suffering.

WHO said the “disfiguring swelling of the legs and genital organs is a classic sign of late-stage disease” cause temporary or permanent disability of a person.

The lymphatic system contains immune cells called lymphocytes, which protect the body against harmful viruses and bacteria.

PHO said the infection can be treated with drugs unless such condition is already chronic and requires other types of treatment.

Drugs to combat filariasis include the combination of “either diethylcarbamazine citrate (DEC) and albendazole, or ivermectin and albendazole or the regular use of DEC fortified salt can prevent occurrence of new infection and disease.”

Health officials said annual mass administration of the drug combination given for five years is the preferred course of treatment. The drugs are recommended to be given to “individuals at risk” such as those residing in filariasis-prone community whether they manifest symptoms or not.

In its report, the Department of Health said Filariasis is endemic in the provinces of Sarangani, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, North Cotabato, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley, Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Sulu, Basilan, Maguindanao, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Bukidnon, Misamis Occidental and Misamis Oriental.

Global statistics also show that “more than 1.3 billion people in 81 countries worldwide are threatened by lymphatic filariasis while over 120 million people are currently infected, with about 40 million disfigured and incapacitated by the disease.” (CTA/PIA General Santos City)

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