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Guyana Moving To Eradicate Filariasis

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, October 17, 2019 (CMC) – Guyana’s health authority says it is embarking on a new campaign, with support from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), to eliminate filariasis from the country.

Filariasis is a parasitic disease, caused by an infection with roundworms of the Filarioidea type. These are spread by blood-feeding diptera such as black flies and mosquitoes. This disease belongs to the group of diseases called helminthiases. Eight known filarial nematodes use humans as their definitive hosts.

The Ministry of Public Health said the Mass Drug Administration (MDA) campaign is tentatively scheduled to commence in each of eight regions, during the last week of October and will run for 14 days.

It said that the MDA campaign has been revised after PAHO/WHO statistics indicated Guyana to be one of two countries in the Americas left to eliminate filaria, Haiti is the other country.

The authorities, here, said that a recent remapping of all 10 regions has shown that the coverage areas must be expanded for the rounds of IDA Mass Drug Administration to result in the successful elimination of filaria, hence the addition of the four additional regions.

They said the campaign will focus on four additional endemic regions and that critical to this campaign, is the addition of a third drug, Ivermectin, to the already administered Diethylcarbamazine (DEC) and Albendazole tablets, thus making the initial double-drug therapy now a three-fold.

Director of the Vector Control Services, Dr. Horace Cox, said that the new strategy, taken to prevent filaria, is the most effective.

“This year, we have determined, after assessing all perspectives, the best strategy is to measure the height of the persons that would be participating in the mass drug administration campaign… They will use a dose pole and on that dose pole, there are several demarcations…,” he said.

According to Dr. Cox, the dose pole will outline the number of pills to be administered to the corresponding height measured. Every pill distributor must utilise a dose pole before distributing pills in this revised campaign.

Focal Point for Neglected Infectious Diseases at Vector Control Services’ Dr. Reza Niles, said there is no cure for the chronic manifestation of filaria, but there is prevention for the early stages of the infection, and the media is a critical component in having members of the public understand.

“A key component to any successful MDA is social mobilisation; that is why we are engaging you the media to affect behaviour change. What is this behaviour change? For persons not just to take their pills, but to acknowledge there is a problem, to defeat this problem,” Dr. Niles said.

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