By Ann Varghese
Senior Program Officer/IMA World Health

An estimated one billion people worldwide are affected by one or more neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). These diseases disproportionally affect poor and rural populations who lack access to clean water, sanitation, and essential medicines. They can cause chronic suffering, disability, compromised mental and physical development, and social stigma.

Volunteers do a home visit to an LF patient with advanced lymphoedema.

Lymphatic filariasis (LF) is a highly disabling disease that is endemic in 83 countries with over 1 billion people at risk. It poses a major health issue in India; almost 45% of people at risk for LF globally live in India [1]. The disease is a parasitic infection spread by mosquitoes. It is caused by thread-like parasitic worms that damage the human lymphatic system. The disease can cause severe disfigurement with swelling of the limbs and breasts (lymphoedema) and genitals (hydrocele). LF prevents individuals from experiencing a normal working and social life, furthering the cycle of poverty. The WHO global strategy for elimination of LF as a public health problem is based on two key components:

  • interrupting transmission through annual large-scale treatment programmes, known as mass drug administration (MDA), implemented to cover the entire at-risk population;
  • alleviating the suffering caused by lymphatic filariasis through morbidity management and disability prevention

To read the rest of this story visit the American India Foundation blog.