To stop the spread of infection, a combined dose of two medicines is given every year to the entire population of areas at risk.
Medication is distributed via volunteers known as community-directed distributors (CDDs), who work locally in their own communities.
Although people suffering from advanced lymphatic filariasis cannot be cured, the symptoms can be eased through surgery and care.
While river blindness is transmitted by the black fly and lymphatic filariasis by the mosquito, both diseases are caused by an infection of a filarial worm and often occur in the same places. Where they are co-endemic, Sightsavers coordinates treatments for these two diseases using Mectizan® tablets, donated by pharmaceutical company Merck Sharpe & Dohme (MSD), and albendazole tablets, donated by GlaxoSmithKline.
In countries where river blindness in not co-endemic, lymphatic filariasis is treated using diethylcarbamazine, produced by Eisai, and albendazole tablets, donated by GlaxoSmithKline.
In 2017, we provided more than 55 million treatments for LF worldwide. We also trained more than 237,000 volunteers (known as community-directed distributors) who distribute medication to people at risk.
Although people suffering from advanced LF cannot be cured, the symptoms can be eased through surgery and care. Sightsavers works with WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) organisations to help households access clean water and facilities, so people can clean their affected limbs and care for their skin with clean water and soap. Symptoms can also be helped by elevating limbs and by wearing footwear.