Following almost two decades of successful elimination efforts by the Philippine Government led by the Department of Health (DOH), the DOH reported that only eight provinces remain endemic for Lymphatic Filarias (LF) out of the 46 earlier established.
LF, a parasitic infection spread by mosquitoes, is found in the tropical and sub-tropical areas of Africa, Asia, the Pacific, the Middle East and the Americas. It is one of the world’s leading causes of disability. Symptoms can include chronic swelling of the legs, arms and male genitals.
People with LF are also less able to resist common skin infections, resulting in a cruel cycle of fevers and painful swellings. In its severest form, LF leads to elephantiasis, a crippling condition in which the limbs are swollen with marked thickening of the skin and underlying tissues.
The World Health Organization estimates that 856 million people in 52 countries are living in areas where LF is transmitted and are at risk of being infected.
In the Philippines, it was reported in year 2000 that over 25 million people live in LF-endemic areas.
During the 1st ASEAN Lymphatic Filariasis Forum 2018 in July which was held in Manila, Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III stressed, “the DOH is ready to take the challenge of eliminating filariasis in the country by being more responsive through the DOH’s revitalized agenda of Fourmula 1 Plus for Health.” Fourmula 1 Plus for Health is a DOH strategy focusing of health financing, health service delivery network, health regulation, governance in health and performance accountability.
“To ensure the success against lymphatic filariasis, Duque devised a Formula E approach which is for Engagement and Everybody. Engagement is where government needs to share its resources and expertise with other stakeholders including local governments, and Everybody is where the whole of government or the whole-of-society approach should be adapted by leaders to ensure that all interventions are aligned and inter-connected,” the DOH reported.
In the Philippines, GSK has donated over 255 million albendazole tablets over the last 17 years. This small white tablet is part of the fight to eliminate lymphatic filariasis (LF), a disease transmitted by mosquitoes and burdens identified rural communities in the country.
By the end of the year, GSK projects this donation to reach 261 million albendazole tablets in support of its goal to help eliminate LF in the Philippines by 2020.
Globally, GSK has donated 8 billion tablets of albendazole to help eliminate this disabling disease. This tablet is used in combination with other medicines to help prevent transmission of LF.
At the turn of the millennium, the World Health Organization launched its global program to eliminate LF with the aim of defeating the disease as a global health problem by 2020. GSK and partners helped build a global alliance including organizations from across the non-profit and private sector to get behind the WHO’s campaign. GSK’s albendazole donation through the WHO forms part of this global effort.
GSK Philippines General Manager, Sriram Jambunathan, commented, “The Philippine Government, through the DOH, is to be commended for its achievement in the elimination of LF in many provinces in the last two decades. This is a testament to the commitment and dedication of the government at the national and local government units, especially the health workers delivering treatments on the ground. We, in GSK, remain committed to playing our part with the global donation of albendazole for as long as it is needed to replicate this success throughout the remaining eight endemic provinces, freeing Filipino communities from the burden of LF.”