Samoa Undergoes Mass Administration of Anti-Parasitic Drugs to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis

"Lymphatic Filariasis is a chronic disease that is spread by mosquitoes. Those affected can progress to develop permanent swelling of limbs, breasts and genitals with significant disfiguration."

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Health workers administering treatment in Savaii. Photo - Ministry of Health Samoa FB

This week, community and health workers will be out and about dispensing tablets to treat Lymphatic Filariasis to everyone aged 2 years and older.

This is part of the mass drug administration that the Ministry of Health, together with the Ministry of Women Community and Social Development, have undertaken in an effort to combat the chronic illness that 2017 and 2018 blood surveys have shown to be widespread.

“This is a serious concern to the health authorities,’ says Aiono Dr Alec Ekeroma, Director General of Health, Ministry of Heatlh.

A statement released by MOH has asked that the public kindly cooperate by making sure all families take the tablets given to them by the visiting community and health workers.

‘This is the second year that Samoa is implementing this new strategy with mass administration of three anti-parasitic drugs that together can kill these worms more effectively, stop transmission and bring Samoa closer to achieving elimination goals’ reassures Dr Kim Dickson the WHO Representative to Samoa

Everyone aged 2 years and older will be treated.

Pregnant women, breastfeeding women with babies less than 7 days old and the seriously ill, bedridden at home or admitted to hospital, are excluded.

The drug administration will be carried out from 16-24 September 2023.

According to the MOH statement, Lymphatic Filariasis is a chronic disease that is spread by mosquitoes. Those affected can progress to develop permanent swelling of limbs, breasts and genitals with significant disfiguration. There are also many who are infected, and those in early stages of infection, who do not show any symptoms. “So, you can have this infection without actually knowing that you have it until it is too late,” says Aiono Dr. Alec Ekeroma.

In its statement, the Ministry of Health acknowledges the assistance of other organisations in ensuring that all goes well.

The Ministry of Health has been working closely with the Ministry of Women Community and Social Development to rally together the community in preparation for the Lymphatic Filariasis – Mass Drug Administration. The Ministry of Health will not be able to carry this out without the tremendous support of the village communities, Sui o le Malo, Sui o Nu’u, Sui Tamaitai o Nuu, other government ministries, non-governmental organization and the various partners contributing to make this campaign a success. – Ministry of Health