A new report released by World Health Organization (WHO) shows that we’re making progress towards eliminating lymphatic filariasis – a painful and debilitating neglected tropical disease.
Lymphatic filariasis (LF) can cause severe swelling to body parts, intermittent fevers and secondary infections. Patients with the disease can also develop permanent disabilities. This can leave them unable to work and provide for their families which can expose them to poverty and stigma.
WHO’s report shows that in 2022 the number of people at risk from LF had reduced by 15% from the previous year (falling from 342 million in 2021 to 288 million in 2022).
Out of 72 countries that were originally recorded as endemic for the disease, 18 have so far managed to eliminate it as a public health problem. This is the result of a concerted global effort that has involved partners at many different levels – from the pharmaceutical firms Merck and Co., Inc (known as Merck Sharpe and Dohme, MSD, outside of the USA and Canada) and GlaxoSmithKline, who have donated millions of doses of medication to combat LF, right through to the health workers who have been distributing these drugs within their local communities.
I’m proud that Sightsavers has played a key role in tackling LF. We’re committed to being part of the global network that will achieve the elimination of the disease as a public health problem by 2030.
Together with our partners and community volunteers, we’ve supported governments to roll out drug treatment campaigns across several African countries. By teaching self-care techniques, we’ve also helped to prevent the painful symptoms of the disease from developing for tens of thousands of people. The two statistics below show the work that we’ve supported.