Eight-five percent. That's the mass drug administration population target set by the province of Antique in its fight against filariasis, a parasitic infection common in the area.

The bigger objective is to make the province filariasis-free by 2020.

“We are moving forward for a filariasis-free province that is why we have to sustain the previous year’s accomplishment of 80 percent coverage in order to achieve the campaign against filariasis,” according to Provincial Health Officer Dr Ric Noel Naciongayo.

Filariasis is a major parasitic infection. The worms - wuchereria bancrofti, brugia malayi and brugia timori - form “nests” within the human lymphatic system.

The disease presents with lymphoedema of the limbs, genital disease such as hydrocele and chylocele, and fever. Though some infected people may appear asymptomatic, many of them show damages in their kidneys, as well as proteinuria and haematuria.

The Department of Health (DOH) estimates that filariasis is endemic in 43 provinces across 11 regions nationwide. In 2016, the PHO noted there were nine affected towns in Antique.

In 2010, when the first mass drug administration campaign was conducted, 61 percent of the population was covered. This increased to 69 percent the following year. Last year, the mass administration covered 81 percent, according to PHO’s Infectious Disease Cluster head, Aben Cardenal.

Prior to the mass administration, the PHO found 10 cases of  elephantiasis in various municipalities in the province, a condition which commonly associated with filariasis.

The mass drug administration projected is being supported by the Department of Education (DepEd) and a non-government organization (NGO).

Recently, the DOH has promised to end all the Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD), which includes filariasis. NTDs are a diverse group of communicable diseases that thrive in tropical and subtropical conditions.

Other NTDs in the country include leprosy, rabies, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminthiasis and food and water-borne diseases.

The programme on NTD includes interrupting transmission, elimination of stigma, halting the progression and overcoming the effects of NTDs. MIMS

Read more:

PH: DOH to end Neglected Tropical Diseases by 2030
10 near-forgotten diseases that are still very real threats – Part 1
Killing snails a better way to control disease than drugs