Kenya has sustained renewed efforts towards ensuring that elephantiasis is eliminated in the next two years.
The Ministry of Health is currently conducting a post-elimination surveillance survey of the disease scientifically known as Lymphatic Filariasis (LF).
The neglected tropical disease which is transmitted to humans through mosquitoes is endemic in all the six counties of the coastal region.
A research team in Lamu, led by KEMRI in collaboration with the health ministry and WHO is collecting data on LF prevalence among the adult population.
“Lamu County is making significant progress, showcasing effective Mass Drug Administration campaigns in LF elimination,” said MOH.
The study, the ministry says will contribute vital information for dossier development towards LF elimination validation in the country.
World Health Organization is providing technical leadership and medicines for IDA/MDA campaigns, and distribution of bed nets for mosquito control.
The Ministry of Health, Vector Borne and Neglected Tropical Diseases Unit (VBNTDU) aims to eliminate LF in Kenya by 2025 in line with the Kenya Breaking Transmission Strategy (2019 – 2023) and the Kenya NTD Masterplan.
VBNTDU, through its National Program to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (NPELF), has been providing preventive chemotherapy over the years, through Mass Drug Administrations (MDAs), and has carried out consecutive and successful rounds of MDA in six target counties in the Coastal Region (Kilifi, Kwale, Mombasa, Taita Taveta and Tana River).
Lymphatic filariasis impairs the lymphatic system and can lead to the abnormal enlargement of body parts, causing pain, severe disability and social stigma.
Over 882 million people in 44 countries worldwide remain threatened by lymphatic filariasis and require preventive chemotherapy to stop the spread of this parasitic infection.
Lymphatic filariasis can be eliminated by stopping the spread of infection through preventive chemotherapy with safe medicine combinations repeated annually. More than 9 billion cumulative treatments have been delivered to stop the spread of infection since 2000.
As of 2018, 51 million people were infected – a 74% decline since the start of WHO’s Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis in 2000.
Due to the successful implementation of WHO strategies, 740 million people no longer require preventive chemotherapy.
An essential, recommended package of care can alleviate suffering and prevent further disability among people living with disease caused by lymphatic filariasis.
Lymphatic filariasis infection involves asymptomatic, acute and chronic conditions. The majority of infections are asymptomatic, showing no external signs of infection while contributing the transmission of the parasite. These asymptomatic infections still cause damage to the lymphatic system and the kidneys and alter the body’s immune system.
When lymphatic filariasis develops into chronic conditions it leads to lymphoedema (tissue swelling) or elephantiasis (skin/tissue thickening) of limbs and hydrocele (scrotal swelling).
Addition information by WHO