– another cycle of mass drugs distribution to commence next month
Eighty-six percent of the target population for the mass drug distribution campaign to eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis [or filaria] was reached during the past year. This is according to information released by the Ministry of Public Health, which has stated that the target populations for the campaign set to continue next month are Regions Three, Four, Five and 10.
The campaign is one that saw the administration of 100 mg Diethylcarbamazine [DEC] and 400 mg Albendazole. The doses administered were one DEC and one Albendazole to children age two to five; to those six to 14 two DEC and one albendazole while those 15 and older were given three DEC and one albendazole tablets.
But in order to realise its desired effects, the campaign must continue. According to a letter being disseminated by the Public Health Ministry to organisations whose members are expected to be among the target population, the Ministry is currently preparing to commence the 2018 round of the campaign.
The campaign is slated to resume from October 8, 2018 and last for two weeks where trained individuals will make up teams dispatched by the Ministry to distribute the pills.
In keeping with the National Plan for elimination of filariasis as a public health problem by the year 2023, the vector control services unit has commenced the annual activities related to the mass drug administration of the pills.
In soliciting the support of the various entities, the Ministry in its letter said, “We advocate your customary support, activism and participation. Our aim is to foster strong partnerships to ensure advocacy and mutual support at all levels of society.”
In addition to continuing the process, the Ministry is also offering to further sensitise the target population during which any questions about the campaign will be answered.
The Ministry since the start of the campaign has insisted that the Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis, which started in 2001 in Guyana, is safe.
Since the year 2008, six regions have benefitted from the Mass Distribution of the tablets [100mg DEC and 400mg Albendazole] at the predefined doses. In 2016, 277,612 persons from Regions Three, Four, Five and 10 received the drugs via Directly Observed Therapy (DOT).
Prior to this initiative, thousands of Guyanese received DEC salt to prevent filaria.
According to information released by the Ministry, the medicines being distributed are donations from the World Health Organization through its regional office, the Pan American Health Organization.
According to the Ministry, the donation process begins with the exchange of documents, which include: a certificate of good manufacturing practice [issued by the Ministry of Health in the country where the tablets are manufactured]; a certificate of analysis of the tablets which assures product quality assurance and an information leaflet on the tablet which details its indications, considerations and precautions, dosage and side effects.
The aforementioned documents are first perused by the Permanent Secretary and Chief Medical Officer of the Public Health Ministry before the drugs are approved for shipment.
While there are side-effects that have been linked to the tablets, the Ministry has made it clear that the adverse effects listed are pretty uncommon and occur mostly in patients who have a significant worm burden. However, it was asserted that adverse effects have been found to subside within 24 hours. “Any person who experiences these adverse effects beyond this time should seek medical attention,” the Ministry outlined as it pointed out that, “in the nine years of tablet distribution, the country boasts that there have been no serious adverse events that have led to hospitalization, disability or death.”
As such, the Ministry said that it will continue to provide the DOT Treatment in an on-going effort to protect the public from the chronic, debilitation caused by filaria and “we urge all eligible citizens to participate.”
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