PACIFIC REGIONAL INITIATIVE FOR

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SECRETARIAT OF THE PACIFIC COMMUNITY (SPC) Noumea, New Caledonia

Press Release August 31,1999

THE ELIMINATION OF FILARIASIS

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the World Health Organization successfully conducted a major meeting in Brisbane, Australia, June 28-29, to bring together health specialists working in the field of filariasis control.

Over the two-day meeting, participants were given an up-date on current and planned activities globally and within the Pacific region, leading to the control of lymphatic filariasis. One of the major outcomes was a consensus on the regional plan of action for elimination of lymphatic filariasis in the Pacific. This initiative is now called "Pac-ELF."

The plan of action focuses on the elimination of lymphatic filariasis as a public health problem by stopping the spread of infection (i.e., interrupting transmission), and reducing the suffering of affected persons.

The strategy is that treatment of the human population should be the major focus for control/elimination efforts, using community-wide ('mass') treatment of the entire "at risk" population. Vector control should be used only as an adjunct to programs based on drug administration. Morbidity control in affected patients should focus on self-help and support groups using intensive, but simple and effective, local hygiene techniques.

New treatment regimens for community-wide use to interrupt transmission are based on one-day, once yearly treatment (for an estimated 4-6 years) for 5 years, using a two-drug regimen of Albendazole and DEC. This will result in a 99% reduction in microfilaraemia for one full year. An alternative of using DEC fortified salt is also very effective.

Several countries in the Pacific are ready to embark on Albendazole/DEC programs, and the aim is to complete treatment in all affected Pacific countries by 2005, and to be able to certify elimination by 2010, 20 years ahead of the global target.

For further information, please contact: Dr. Tony Stewart Medical Epidemiologist Pacific Regional Vector Borne Disease Project Email: Tonys@spc.org.nc

or

Dr Kazuyo Ichimori WHO Scientist WHO Western Pacific Region Email: clo-van@who.org.vu

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