In an effort to eradicate the mosquito-borne disease filaria, the Government through the Public Health Ministry will be spending over US $1M in pills and sensitization procedures this year.
This was related by the Public Health Minister, Volda Lawrence during an interview recently.
Although the Minister was unable to say specifically how much money is being spent on the Mass Drug Administration (MDA), which is currently being rolled out in four different administrative Regions she noted that the Ministry will invest all it has to, to protect its citizens.
At the launch of the MDA programme earlier this month, Senior Health Officer, Quincy Jones disclosed that each year about US $1M is spent on the distribution process.
Lawrence said, “This year we’re on that push to ensure that we can eradicate filaria from Guyana. It’s a big project for the Ministry of Public Health we believe that we can do it and we have invested more money with the help of our partners PAHO/WHO (Pan American World Health Organization/World Health Organization)”.
It was on the same breath that the subject Minister sought to explain how the additional money is being spent. According to her, “We have had quite a lot of educational pieces, educating people so that persons wouldn’t get caught up with the rumors and people (who are) just saying things without evidence”.
The Member of Parliament reported that so far the MDA programme, which officially began two Mondays ago, has been successful as locals are more interested in taking the pills to prevent the dreaded disease from affecting their lymphatic glands, such as the legs, breasts and even genitals to swell.
The Minister said although some are excited to take the pills, others are more concerned with the side effects. Due to this, she noted that more information will be provided for locals on the side effects, which are mild, as well as the benefit of consuming the tablets.
The four regions benefitting from the free pills, albendazole and diethylcarbamazine citrate (DEC) are Regions; Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara); Four (Demerara-Mahaica); Five (Mahaica-Berbice) and 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) as these were found to be the most affected Regions during in a survey conducted by the Ministry a few years ago.
The number of tablets will vary as per age, and is not to be given to pregnant women and children below the ages of two years old. It is said that a persons require five annual doses of the pills before they become immune to the mosquito borne disease.
Although these pills are being distributed in those regions, a Senior Health Officer had assured that the Ministry has not forgotten about the other regions.
“Whilst we enjoy the success of the past year and buckle down to the challenges of this year to continually roll out the MDA program within these four regions that is currently undertaking, I urge the members of the public and the media to know that the other Regions…are not forgotten,” the officer pointed out.
Persons are being urged by the Ministry to take the pills as it will prevent the spread of lymphatic filaria which has no signs during the first 10 years in the life of an infected person.
It was disclosed during the launch of the MDA programme that epidemiology coverage has improved from 45.7 per cent in 2015, to 54.42 in 2016 as only two Regions received the pills back in 2015 and in 2016, the government was able to extend the pill distribution areas to four in 2018.