The Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (GPELF) has two principle goals:
to interrupt transmission of infection;
to alleviate and prevent the suffering and disability produced by the disease.
The Programme works to achieve these goals in a cost-effective, socially-responsible manner that ensures health and economic benefits to everyone, especially the poorest of the poor.
The strategy to interrupt transmission of infection is the administration of two oral drugs once a year to those living in endemic areas. Mass drug administration (MDA) campaigns distribute albendazole and Mectizan® (ivermectin) to the general population in areas where LF and river blindness are both present. In other parts of the world, albendazole and diethylcarbamazine (DEC) are distributed. Annual administration of the drugs, for at least five years, is adequate to interrupt transmission of the parasite that causes LF.
Alternatively, some countries have chosen to use table salt fortified with DEC for one to two years.
For those already afflicted, simple measures like hygiene and skin care can stop lymphoedema from progressing, and surgery can correct male genital damage. The strategy also includes measures to create understanding of the disease and hope, both in patients and in their communities.
In order to ensure that LF elimination programmes use resources effectively, the Global Programme places great emphasis on integration with other public health programmes. Linkages are pursued with programmes that use similar strategies – such as bed nets for malaria control, and drugs for controlling intestinal parasites, schistosomiasis and river blindness.