aiti’s Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP) and the Haiti Neglected Tropical Disease Control Program (HNTDCP) launched its annual mass drug administration (MDA) to prevent lymphatic filariasis and soil transmitted helminths with events April 23 at the Ministry of Communication in Port-au-Prince and April 26 in Tabarre at the mayor’s office.
In attendance at the Port-au-Prince event were Dr. Lauré Adrien, Director General of the Ministry of Public Health and the Population (MSPP); Dr. Martial Bénêche, West Department Health Director; Dr. Jean Frantz Lemoine, National LF/Malaria Coordinator (MSPP); and representatives of technical and financial partner institutions, including Penny Smith from USAID/Washington; Alyssa Leggoe from USAID/Haiti; Dr. Abdel Direny from RTI International; and Carl Renand Fayette from IMA World Health.
During the Tabarre launch, Mayor Nice Simon set an example by taking the medicine that would be distributed to the region to prevent LF and STH.
The events focused on the development of filariasis—causes, care and preventive measures—and showcased the government’s engagement in the LF campaign. LF, commonly known as elephantiasis, is a parasitic disease caused by the presence of small worms in the blood. It is spread from an infected person to a healthy person through mosquito bites. This slow-growing disease, which damages the lymphatic system, can lead to lymphedema and hydrocele. Most infected people are asymptomatic and will never develop clinical symptoms, though a small percentage of people will experience fluid collection and swelling. This mostly affects the legs but can also occur in the arms, breasts and genitalia years after being infected.
To fight this disease in Haiti, the MSPP has deployed a two-pronged strategy: the mass distribution of drugs in schools and communities to prevent new infections and the care of people with clinical signs to relieve suffering. The HNTDCP has noted with satisfaction the success of the MDA campaign. To date, 117 out of 140, or 84 percent, of the country’s communes have met conditions for stopping MDA. However, 23 communes in the country, including eight in the North, 13 in the West, as well as Port-de-Paix and Gonaïves, are still in need of additional MDA.
Dr. Adrien thanked the technical and financial partners of the MSPP, including PAHO/WHO, USAID, RTI, IMA World Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The Carter Center for their support in the fight against LF. Ms. Leggoe acknowledged the efforts of the Haitian health authorities in the fight against LF in the country and reaffirmed USAID’s commitment to support the MSPP to achieve the goal of eliminating this disease in Haiti.
The MSPP has launched the 2018 prevention campaign in the remaining 23 communes still in need of MDA. The campaign in five communes of metropolitan Port-au-Prince—Tabarre, Cité Soleil, Port-au-Prince, Carrefour and Delmas—will run from April 26 to June 4. West Health Director Dr. Martial Bénêche encouraged the entire population, with the exception of pregnant women and children under 2, to take the drugs as part of the campaign. Over 2,200 distribution posts will be in place to reach everyone in the five urban communes. A hotline has been established by IMA World Health to provide information about the campaign and the drugs. This free local number is 37-31-30-30.
Dr. Lemoine also invited the population to collaborate in the campaign while adding that the MSPP is working in collaboration with other relevant state authorities to eliminate mosquitoes in the country.