WHO - World Health Organization

05/13/2023 | Press release | Archived content

Bangladesh eliminates lymphatic filariasis

In a boost to efforts to end neglected tropical diseases in WHO South-East Asia Region, Bangladesh has eliminated lymphatic filariasis, a disease that cripples and has significant social and economic impact on the affected communities.

"Bangladesh's achievement is commendable and follows strong political commitment, tireless efforts by health authorities, partners and the communities. It is also a result of innovative approaches and meticulous implementation of elimination strategies," said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director WHO South-East Asia, who has been prioritizing ending neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in the Region as one of the flagship programs.

Lymphatic filariasis, also known as elephantiasis, occurs when filarial parasites are transmitted to humans through mosquito bites. The infection is usually acquired in childhood with painful and disfiguring visible manifestations appearing much later in life, often in the form of enlargement of body parts causing pain, severe disability, and associated stigma.

Lymphatic filariasis was a major public health problem in Bangladesh. In 2001 the country established its national programme to eliminate lymphatic filariasis which was endemic in 19 of the 64 districts. Between 2001 and 2015, high coverage mass drug administration campaigns were rolled out in all endemic districts.

Alongside, systematic and high-quality transmission assessment surveys were carried out by well-trained programme personnel between 2011 and 2021.

The Regional Director also complimented Bangladesh for its morbidity management and disability prevention programme which has been regularly updating data from the endemic districts. Using this database, over 31,000 patients have been trained on self-care and provided kits to manage their disease condition and improve quality of life.

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