Vietnam eliminates lymphatic filariasis
|Assoc.Prof. Nguyen Truong Son, Deputy Head of MoH in his speech at the Ceremony on Declaration of Lymphatic Filariasis Elimination in Vietnam.|
In October 2018, the World Health Organization announced that Vietnam has successfully eliminated lymphatic filariasis as a public health problem. On January 17, the Government of Vietnam held a celebration in Hanoi to commemorate the elimination of lymphatic filariasis as a public health problem.
After more than a half century of effort led by Vietnam and supported by an array of partners- including USAID- the people of Vietnam no longer worry about a disease that once caused disability, disfigurement, pain, social stigma, and economic loss for its citizens.
Lymphatic filariasis, also known as elephantiasis, causes fluid buildup in the lymph system that can lead to severe disfigurement, as well as social and economic discrimination against those affected. The disease is caused when filarial parasites, transmitted to humans through mosquitoes, damage the body's lymphatic system. This damage to the lymph system, in conjunction with painful and debilitating inflammatory attacks often caused by bacterial or fungal infections, causes swelling of arms, legs and other body parts.
The associated disfiguration often causes stigma that impacts an individual's ability to lead a productive economic and social life by restricting the ability to earn a living, leading to social and physical isolation and reducing other life chances, such as marriage.
A patient washes his leg, which is swollen from lymphedema caused by lymphatic filariasis.
Proper self-care is essential for preventing further complications.
Photo credit: RTI International/Nguyen Minh Duc
WHO said elimination of lymphatic filariasis is possible by stopping the spread of infection through large-scale treatment (called mass drug administration) delivered in annual doses to all at-risk individuals in endemic areas. The medicines have a limited effect on adult parasites but effectively reduce the density of microfilariae in the bloodstream and thus prevent the spread of parasites to mosquitoes.
The WHO also said that in Vietnam, references to the disease go back more than a century. The prevalence of infection gradually declined in many areas through environmental changes, improvements in housing, increased use of bed nets and selective treatment.
Annual mass treatment campaigns between 2002 and 2008 stopped transmission in remaining endemic areas, and surveillance has continued. Last year, the country established a pioneering new training programme to ensure sustained care for people with complications from lymphatic filariasis.
Besides Vietnam, Palau, and Wallis and Futuna have eliminated lymphatic filariasis.
On January 17, the Government of Vietnam held a celebration in Hanoi to commemorate the elimination of lymphatic filariasis
as a public health problem.
Since the WHO launched the Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis in 2000, a total of 11 countries and areas in the Western Pacific Region have been recognised for eliminating lymphatic filariasis as a public health problem: Cambodia, China, Cook Islands, Niue, the Marshall Islands, Palau, the Republic of Korea, Tonga, Vanuatu, Vietnam, and Wallis and Futuna.