Over 363,932 persons took filaria pills

…as campaign moves to Regions 1, 2, 5, 7

Persons across the country have been taking their pills to eliminate filaria

The mass drug administration to eliminate filariasis is seeing positive results, with over 360,000 persons taking the pills across the country over the weeks.
Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony shared on Monday that 363,932 persons were reached as of this weekend in the populous Regions Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara), Four (Demerara-Mahaica), Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) and 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice).
Over the weekend, the campaign has been launched in Regions One (Barima-Waini), Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), Five (Mahaica-Berbice) and Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) but the rollout started on Monday.
Dr Anthony said Region One saw a strong turnout during the launching, and it is expected that a high number of persons will take the medications.
“We had a good turnout and a number of pill distributors who came out and other influencers in the community so I suspect that the rollout of the filaria campaign in Region One is going to be very strong. The last time when they had such a campaign, they were able to get at least 74 per cent of the people taking the medication and we hope that they can do the same or already be better this time around. From the enthusiasm that I saw, I think we’re going to do better,” the Minister explained during the coronavirus update.
For the campaign, training has been completed for 1400 pill distributors, 170 field officers, 20 regional coordinators and eight national supervisors spanning 138 health facilities across the country. For those persons who have already contracted filaria, he said they are working on treatment to prevent them from developing a disability.
It is recommended by the World Health Organisation to roll out a mass administration of medicines in countries seeking to eliminate filariasis completely. Guyana would have completed the administration of the first round of pills and now the last round will be administered to citizens. Once the campaign starts in February, it will end by May.
Guyanese are given three tablets; Ivermectin, Diethylcarbamazine (DEC) and Albendazole. The combination of pills is referred to as the IDA. The number of tablets varies per age, and they are not to be given to pregnant women and children below the age of two years old.
According to information from the World Health Organisation (WHO), the disease is caused by three species of thread-like nematode worms, known as filariae – Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi and Brugia timori. Male worms range from three to four centimetres in length, and female worms eight to 10 centimetres.
The World Health Organisation data shows that some 900 million people in 49 different countries are at risk of contracting filaria. As such, the Health Minister has said this forms a national effort to completely eliminate filaria, as he called for political unity in realising this objective.
“More than 90 per cent of our population is at risk of this disease…Once we complete this exercise, then henceforth, nobody in Guyana should ever have to deal with filaria again. If we are able to accomplish this as a people, then that is going to be a wonderful achievement for all of us…This exercise is one where all of us would have to come together as one people to fight this disease and I am extremely happy that we can have political unity so that we can demonstrate to our public that there is no politics involved here,” Dr Anthony had said during the campaign launch in Region Four. (G12)