November is filariasis awareness month
KIAMBA, Sarangani (30 October) -- Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has launched here the fight to eliminate lymphatic filariasis, a parasitic infection transmitted by mosquitoes.
Filariasis causes suffering and disability. It is a neglected tropical disease which affects children, men and women, young and old.
However, it is a potentially eradicable disease.
The Regional Filariasis Elimination Campaign kicked off with Duque and representatives of the World Health Organization and GlaxoSmithKline Thursday before thousands of residents.
The event starts a series of mass drug administration activities in November, filariasis awareness month.
"Kung hindi dahil sa inyo, kami ay mahihirapang gawing matagumpay ang pangkalusugan dito sa bayan ng Kiamba," Duque said.
Globally, filariasis is endemic in 83 countries affecting 120 million people.
In the Philippines, it is endemic in 39 provinces. It affects 645,232 Filipinos and 23 million are at risk.
Filariasis is endemic in the Mindanao 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. "Ang isang tao kapag tinamaan ng filariasis ay namamaga ang mga bahagi ng katawan at halos hindi na sila nakakakilos pa kaya kailangan ang mass drug action at ito ay sa tulong ng ating mga katuwang sa pribadong sector at ibang ahensya ng pamahalaan," Duque said.
Duque delivered boxes of drugs to combat filariasis - diethylcarbamazine citrate and albendazole – from GlaxoSmithKline represented by company executive Noel Esberto.
Health officials said a yearly administration of one tablet each given for five years is the preferred course of treatment. The drugs are given to members of the population of a filariasis-prone area whether they show symptoms or not.
Dr. Rahman Velayudhan of the World Health Organization said the "main effort" is to increase the coverage of mass drug administration from the present 60% to 85%.
"We would like to achieve 80-85% and to get higher average of people taking the tablet for four to five years so you will be free of filariasis," Velayudhan said.
The fight against filariasis is dubbed: "Filariasis, Sugpuin; Gamot ay Inumin… 'Sang Beses 'Sang Taon sa Loob ng Limang Taon."
Kiamba Vice Mayor Jocelyn Dalman said the Department of Health's (DOH) filariasis elimination campaign here is an opportunity to address the six percent of her town's population who are affected with filariasis.
"We have to act on this as early as possible. Through this number, the DOH was able to look into it," Dalman said.
Governor Migs Dominguez emphasized the importance of partnership in the nationwide campaign against filariasis.
"We must always be ready to accept partnerships up from the national level para mapangalagaan at mas maganda ang future ng mga bata natin," the governor said.
"Kung ang kalusugan ay mahina, then we cannot expect much from the children when they grow up," Dominguez said. " Kasama sa priority natin in investing in human capital together with good health to create better children as future leaders." (Sarangani IO/PIA 12) [top]