Lymphatic filariasis treatment has criteria

By Deidre Tautua-Fanene ,

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Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri.

Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri. (Photo: Samoa Observer)

Ministry of Health C.E.O. Leausa Dr. Take Naseri has clarified that there are criteria that a person who intends to take the mass drug administration (M.D.A.) for lymphatic filariasis has to meet. 

He said there are certain people who are not supposed to take the medication such as pregnant women, children below the age of two, those who are severely ill, elderly, epileptic children with recent episodes and people with heart problems experiencing some symptoms and those who are allergic to medication.

The media raised concerns that the health teams handing out medication in villages, public places and schools do not talk about the criteria, but Leausa said there are certain things that patients would want to remain confidential.

“Some people they don’t want everyone to know of their situation.

“[And] before we went out to the villages and school, we held a two weeks training where members from each village attended that training.

“They came with records of people from their villages as well as their ages, so when our teams went out they had already known which people should take the medication and which people should not,” he said.

The Ministry of Health will embark on another M.D.A. to ensure that there are no gaps uncovered and those who missed out in the first round are catered for in this round. 

“We are doing a cleanup where we will pick up all the people that might have missed the first wave.

“But just to clarify, this is not easy because we cannot freeze people to stay put in their house until we come around. 

“So that is another reason we approached the schools as well because that is where we find all the children and as you can see the strategy it is for everyone.

“So if the teams hadn’t reached other families, this is where we need to work together they need to call the Ministry of Health.

“Some people they come here to take their medication but we are trying our best to ensure that everyone takes the medication,” he added.

Leausa said the purpose of the medication is to eradicate the filarial worm from the country, which at the moment the level is at the eradication phase.

“Now compare to Tokelau, Tonga, Marshall Islands even the Solomon Islands they have eradicated the filariasis.

“So that is the main aim and this is one of the recommendations in liaising with World Health Organisation (W.H.O.) on our strategies to have the rounds of M.D.A.

“This is not new we did it before and I think we had two rounds before the tsunami,” he added. 

According to Leausa that third round of the vaccination programme, which began in 2009 was disrupted by the tsunami disaster that affected Samoa. 

“The third round was disrupted in 2009 because of the tsunami so we had to postpone it to 2011 and after that we did a trans-assessment survey noting that there was a particular area of Samoa that still has the micro –filarial parasite. So we did another round focusing on that area we identify as North West of Upolu and Savai’i was okay.”

He said last year the Ministry of Health had another trans-assessment survey and they discovered red spots all over the country including Savai’i.

“We noted a slight research in the number of positive cases micro filarial worm hence the plan M.D.A. this year, so this is a wide out.

“This is also the first time we approach taking the medication to the schools and then follow up with going to the families.

“But we are also urging the public that if you did not take the medication, you need to let us know so that when we come around for our cleanup we will know who took the medication and who did not.

“This is also where the media comes in, we need to work together to keep our people informed and to let them know that there is still a chance for them to take the medication,” he added.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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