Feb 23, 2021 News
– Ministry continues to push mass drug distribution campaign to stop spread
Kaieteur News – With 90 percent of the population at risk of contracting lymphatic filariasis, commonly known as filaria, the Ministry of Health (MOH), in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), is continuing its aggressive campaign to eliminate the disease.
Dr. Reza Niles, the lymphatic filariasis campaign coordinator, at Vector Control Services Unit at the MOH, told Kaieteur Radio yesterday that the ongoing Mass Drug Distribution (MDA) against Lymphatic Filariasis and Intestinal Worms would cover several regions, which have been deemed highly endemic for the disease.
“There are areas that are considered highly endemic for lymphatic filariasis including: Moruca Region One, the entire Region Two and Region Three, Region Six, Bartica in Region Seven and Region 10. Regions Eight and Region Nine will be targeted…” she said.
According to the Dr. Niles, the campaign, which was launched on February 8, last, has already seen a mass distribution of the pills used to prevent the disease from spreading in the coastal areas.
She noted that the Ministry has deployed workers to various communities in Regions Three and Four to distribute the pills. She said too that the exercise is initially being rolled out in these regions as they are more densely populated, before it is expanded to the other eight administrative regions. The distribution exercise will last two weeks in each region.
Dr. Niles said too that the campaign would target at least 70 percent of the population except for people who are sick, women who are pregnant or nursing and children below the age of two.
Dr. Niles stressed that the aim of the MDA is to eliminate the disease.
“The exercise that we are doing is to prevent the spread and eliminate the filariasis at its core from happening. We are hoping that once we complete this exercise, nobody in Guyana should ever have to deal with filaria again,” she explained.
Dr. Niles noted too that the distribution would be done in compliance with the gazetted COVID-19 measures.
Earlier this month, during the launch of this year’s MDA campaign, Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, noted that once the programme is successful, Guyana would be declared free of filaria by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Minister Anthony expressed confidence in the officers distributing the pills and charged them to educate people on the importance of taking them as they conduct the exercise.
“We believe strongly that we will be able, with the help of the persons who are working on this, to be able to go out to the various communities. Talk to people, educate them and to ensure that they have the appropriate information so that they will want to take their tablets,” he said.
He noted that success of the programme requires a collaborative effort and cooperation from all stakeholders.
He called on representatives at the neighbourhood and regional democratic councils, faith-based organizations and at the level of political parties, to do their part to help eliminate filaria.
The MDA programme to suppress filaria started in Guyana in October 2019.
Once 70 percent of the population has been covered, Guyana would be eligible for certification from the WHO that filaria has been eliminated here. Over the last year, some 1,400 pill distributors, 170 field officers, 20 regional coordinators and eight national supervisors were trained to conduct the exercise.
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