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LF Elimination Program Treats Over Half Billion People and Protects Millions More From Debilitating Disease
Date:10/7/2008

- Study demonstrates 'Best buy in public health'

LONDON, Oct. 7 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- A study published today confirms that in the ten years since its initiation, the international effort to eliminate lymphatic filariasis (LF) has made unprecedented strides towards ridding the world of one of its most debilitating diseases. The study found that the LF elimination program has prevented 6.6 million children from acquiring LF and stopped another 9.5 million people already infected with the disease from progressing to more debilitating stages. All of this is the result of the most rapid scale-up of a drug administration program in public health history, delivering what the study calls the "best buy in public health."

The paper, published this week in the open-access journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, assessed the impact of the World Health Organization sponsored Global Program to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis, which has proven to be a model for international collaborations to end global health scourges because of its remarkable achievements.

"These data illustrate that with the right partnerships, it is possible to make an extraordinary impact on the health of hundreds of millions of people at minimal cost," said Dr. Mwele Malecela, PhD, Director of the Tanzania Lymphatic Filariasis Program and Chair of the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis. "We are on track to accomplish our goal of elimination by 2020. When we do, this program will be a leading case study for how to scale-up disease elimination programs globally."

Lymphatic filariasis, often called elephantiasis, is a parasitic infection spread by mosquitoes that causes grotesque, painful swelling of the limbs, breasts, and genitals. Considered a neglected tropical disease, LF almost exclusively affects the world's poorest people. Approximately one fifth of the world's population (1.3 billion people) is at risk of contracting LF and approximately
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SOURCE GlaxoSmithKline
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