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PIA Press Release

DOH wages war vs filariasis

Tacloban City (November 4) -- The Department of Health (DepEd) continues in its thrust to wipe out Filariasis through a mass treatment in November, the Filariasis Month, to remove it from the list of public health problems by 2010.

This is pursuant to Executive Order No. 369 which established the National Program for Eliminating Lymphatic Filariasis and declaring the month of November of every year as mass treatment for filariasis in established endemic areas.

Lymphatic Filariasis is a parasitic disease primarily affecting children, women and men living in endemic remote areas. It is a debilitating and disfiguring disease, comprising about 76% of cases living in 4th to 6th class municipalities in 36 established endemic areas out of the 48 probably endemic provinces in the country.

The main strategy to eliminated filariasis is through Mass Treatment using a combination of Diethylcarbamazine Citrate (DEC) and Albendazole annually for five years which has been pilot tested in 2000 and formally started in 2001 in selected municipalities/provinces.

In the mass treatment, health workers will require the target population to drink a combination of two drugs, DFC and Albendazole, to effectively kill adult and young parasites. At least 85 percent of the target population should drink the medicine for five years in order for the country to achieve its goal.

DOH said that local governments and regional health workers must do their share in carrying out public awareness on the disease so that residents in 39 endemic areas will have a compliance rate for treatment.

Filariasis is disease has affected an estimated 645,232 Filipinos while 23 million Filipinos in 39 provinces remain at risk for the disease otherwise known as "elephantiasis." The disease is endemic or naturally occurring in 39 provinces in the country. Filariasis is a parasitic infection spread by a certain type of mosquito, the Aedes Poicillus. It infects a person with thread-like parasitic worms called microfilariasis.

These parasites lodge into the lymphatic system, an essential component of the body's immune defense system and disrupt the lymphatic flow of the blood, making the person prone to infections and acute attacks.

The worms live in the body for five to ten years, producing more micro larvae that circulate in the person's blood. "Just a small wound can make one prone to fungus and secondary bacteria infections and acute attacks that are often painful such that the patient cannot work anymore."

Executive Order 369 was issued to facilitate program management, social mobilization, drug reapplication, distribution and to epidemiologically control the disease, the global experts in consultation with regional coordinators, LGUs and other stakeholders, recommended that a month each year be concentrated for Mass Treatment for filariasis and other anti-filariasis activities.

The Department of Health (DOH) has been directed to lead in the implementation of the "Filariasis Mass Treatment Month" yearly campaign every November starting in 2004. As such, it has to call upon all Government Agencies/Organizations for assistance in the implementation of this Executive Order, including, but not limited to the Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Education, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of National Defense, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Local Government Units/Organizations and the Philippine Information Agency. (PIA 8) [top]

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