Global pharmaceutical company GSK has donated 255 million tablets used to eliminate lymphatic filariasis in the Philippines over the last 17 years.
By the end of 2018, GSK projects to reach the albendazole donation to reach 261 million tablets. This medicine is used in combination with other medicines to help prevent transmission of lymphatic filariasis.
Lymphatic filariasis or LF is a mosquito-transmitted disease that burdens identified rural communities in the country. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, LF is found in the tropical and sub-tropical areas of Africa, Asia, the Pacific, the Middle East, and the Americas.
This disease is one of the world’s leading causes of disability. The World Health Organization says the symptoms can include chronic swelling of the legs, arms, and male genitals. People with LF are also less able to resist common skin infections, resulting in a cruel cycle of fever and painful swellings. In its severest form, it leads to elephantiasis, a crippling condition in which the limbs are swollen with marked thickening of the skin and underlying tissues.
The WHO estimates that 856 million people in 52 countries are living in areas where LF is transmitted and are at risk of being infected.
In the Philippines, it was reported in year 2000 that over 25 million people live in LF-endemic areas.
Following almost two decades of successful LF elimination efforts by the Philippine government led by the Department of Health, the DOH reported that only eight provinces remain endemic for LF out of the 46 earlier established.
During the first Asean Lymphatic Filariasis Forum 2018, which was held in Manila in July, Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III stressed, “The DOH is ready to take the challenge of eliminating filariasis in the country by being more responsive through the DOH’s revitalized agenda of Fourmula 1 Plus for Health.”
Fourmula 1 Plus for Health is a DOH strategy focusing on health financing, health service delivery network, health regulation, governance in health, and performance accountability.
GSK Philippines general manager Sriram Jambunathan commended the DOH for its achievement in the elimination of LF in many provinces in the last two decades.
“This is a testament to the commitment and dedication of the government at the national and local government units, especially the health workers delivering treatments on the ground,” said Jambunathan.
He continued, “We, in GSK, remain committed to playing our part with the global donation of albendazole for as long as it is needed to replicate this success throughout the remaining eight endemic provinces, freeing Filipino communities from the burden of LF.”
Globally, GSK has donated 8 billion tablets of albendazole to help eliminate this disabling disease.
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