The Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis continued to make progress in 2008. During the same year, lymphatic filariasis was endemic in 81 countries: 66 of these countries have completed mapping their endemic foci; 13 countries have made progress in mapping; and only 2 countries have yet to start mapping. Of the endemic countries, 10 did not require mass drug administration (MDA). MDA has been implemented in 51 of the 71 countries where it is required; 20 countries have not yet started. Of the 37 endemic countries outside WHO’s African Region that require MDA, 34 countries have implemented it, covering their entire population or a proportion of it; only 3 countries (New Caledonia, Palau and Sudan) have not initiated MDA.

In 2008, the Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis targeted 695 million people to receive MDA and treated 496 million; thus, reported treatment coverage was 71.38%. The number of people treated was 50 million fewer than in 2007.

All WHO regions, except South-East Asia, treated more people in 2008 than in 2007. In the South-East Asia Region, 56 million fewer people were treated than in 2007. In 2008, >232 million people – that is, 46% of the treated population – received combination therapy comprising diethylcarbamazine (DEC) plus albendazole, or ivermectin plus albendazole.

Data on the impact of treatment from sentinel sites and spot-check sites suggest that delivering 5–6 rounds of MDA reduces the prevalence of microfilaraemia in many provinces in many endemic countries. The public health benefits gained from falling prevalence rates are significant: analysis revealed that MDA averted 32 million disability-adjusted life years, and an estimated 6.6 million neonates were protected from clinical disease.1 The disability management programme is being implemented in 27 countries.

Source: Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis – Progress report on mass drug administration in 2008. Weekly Epidemiological Record, 2009, 84: 437–444