Elephantiasis may become history by 2020

October 9th, 2008 - 5:52 pm ICT by ANI  

London, October 9 (ANI): A painful and disfiguring disease called elephantiasis may be wiped out by 2020, say experts.
Also known as Lymphatic filariasis (LF), this disease is caused by parasitic worms and causes grotesque swelling of the limbs, breasts and genitals.
A World Health Organisation-sponsored drive is said to have delivered 1.9 billion doses of a simple cure since 2000, and pharmaceutical firms have reportedly offered drugs free, keeping costs minimal.
A research paper recently published in the Public Library of Science Neglected Tropical Diseases journal said that the programme, masterminded by the Global Programme to Eliminate LF, had thus far prevented an estimated 6.6 million children from catching the condition, and stopped it from progressing in another 9.5 million people who already had it.
It is thought to be the most rapidly expanding drug administration programme in public health history.
“We are on track to accomplish our goal of elimination by 2020. When we do, this programme will be a leading case study for how to scale up disease elimination programmes globally,” the BBC quoted Dr Mwele Malecela, who chairs the programme, as saying.
The programme is said to have administered treatments to more than 570 million people in 48 of the 83 countries where the disease is endemic.
The treatment involves a combination of two drugs, both donated free of charge from GlaxoSmithKline and Merck and Co. The drugs need to be given once a year for five years to ensure that the disease does not spread.
Another benefit of the drugs is that they also tackle intestinal worms, and approximately 100 million children and women have been treated for these.
Professor David Molyneux, from the Liverpool School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the Executive Secretary of the campaign, said that the success of the project was “staggering”.
“In some countries we are talking about costs of five pence per person, per year. We are reaching hundreds of millions of the world’’s poorest people, and it’’s the additional benefits these drugs bring which are really important. I think that compared to most other public health programmes, it’’s going remarkably well,” he said. (ANI)

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