Side effects of treatment expected, says W.H.O.

By Elizabeth Ah-Hi ,

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Lead coordinator Susitina Lene helps to administer treatment to a family in Leauvaa.

Lead coordinator Susitina Lene helps to administer treatment to a family in Leauvaa. (Photo: Misiona Simo/Samoa Observer)

Minor side effects from the treatment of filariasis is expected but there is nothing to be worried about, says World Health Organisation’s Dr. Rasul Baghirov.

Members of the public have recently reported having adverse reactions to the treatment, which is part of a Government campaign to to eliminate lymphatic filariasis in the country.

But Dr. Baghirov, the head of the World Health Organisation (W.H.O.) Samoa who is supervising the national campaign, told the Samoa Observer that the side effects are normal and expected. 

“The treatment is safe because we would not come with something that is unsafe and there have been multiple studies on this medicine.

“The probability of serious side effects is very minimal, extremely low, much lower than vaccinations. People may feel a little bit dizzy, some people might get a headache but that is expected and not abnormal,” he said.

The dosage varies per individual, depending on their age and their weight with some prescribed to take eight pills and others 17 tablets. Common side effects include dizziness and headache.

Dr. Baghirov has recommended that people feeling discomfort should take paracetamol or report to the health authorities if the symptoms become unbearable. 

“Stay calm there’s no need to stress out, just rest and take some paracetamol, in some cases it is being supplied. But I also need to double check that they are doing it but that is the normal procedure.

“The treatment is safe because we would not come with something that is unsafe and there have been multiple studies on this medicine. Photo/Misiona Simo
“The treatment is safe because we would not come with something that is unsafe and there have been multiple studies on this medicine. Photo/Misiona Simo

“Eating is good. Once you take your medicine it’s okay to eat as per normal. Sometimes it’s psychological because you’re taking all those drugs and because it depends on weight so the bigger you are the more pills you have to take them,” he added. 

Dr Rahul said the campaign to treat filariasis was going better than expected and while they had concerns on how the public will respond to the treatment, there have been no major issues. 

When asked if the advocacy and awareness campaigns were enough to advise people on what to expect, Dr Rahul said he had the same question.

“Well that’s also my question, this is a must.  The message should be out there that its safe but some side effects are possible so don’t panic.” 

A total of 1500 volunteers visited schools, village centers and workplaces to administer a triple drug treatment called I.D.A. 

Samoa Observer accompanied Dr Baghirov and a team of volunteers to visit some families in Leauvaa. Among the volunteers was the lead co-ordinator for Leauvaa, Susitina Lene, who said her village received sufficient information.

“Yes, they understand because we translated all of the information for them. They know that this disease has been going on for years. We also made it clear that this treatment doesn’t aggravate their health problems like high blood pressure,” she added.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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