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Health Dept. calls for public support to wipe out Filariasis

A Health Department official standing in front of a screen — in the background — showing a photo of a person affected with Lymphatic FilariasisDepartment of Health officials, along with Dr. Tamara Buhagair (second from right) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Dr. Tamara Buhagair (second from left) of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and some officials with the ASG Health Department

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Department of Health officials, along with Dr. Tamara Buhagair (second from right) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), posing for a group photo after the panel’s Lymphatic Filariasis presentation yesterday to reporters during a news conference where the officials called for continued public support — especially parents of school-aged children — during the mass drug administration (MDA) to rid American Samoa of Lymphatic Filariasis.

The news conference was called to provide an update of the MDA, which was officially launched Sept. 24th, with the goal of reaching 80% of the population, getting them to take the pills or medication to combat the disease.

Since the launching, with health officials and others setting up MDA centers at various villages and schools 13,867 (about 25%) have taken the pills, and 30,548 people (or 55%) need to take the pills to meet the 80% population goal, or 46,000 people, according to the DoH presentation, which also showed villages covered in the MDA campaign.

The presentation also revealed that 1.6% of the target population include pregnant women and 5.4% are children 2 years old and younger. A DoH news release issued before the MDA launch noted that everyone will be asked to take the pills except for the following: pregnant women; breast-feeding mothers; and children under 2 years of age. (See Samoa News Sept. 21 edition for the news release).

At yesterday’s presentation, health officials stressed the importance of participating in the MDA, which is already completed in Samoa,  and called on the local community’s support, especially parents of students. Health officials are planning to take the MDA back to the schools as only 4,000 students took the pills during the first round of distribution.

One of the set-backs faced by health officials at local schools is that parents didn’t sign the consent forms for students to take the pills. Parents are being encouraged to sign the consent forms — a requirement before the students can take the pills.

For questions or more information call: Lymphatic Filariasis hotline 770-1576; and DoH 633-5871 or 5872. Email:

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) Western Pacific Region announced early this week that Vietnam, along with Palau, and Wallis and Futuna, have eliminated lymphatic filariasis as a public health problem.

It also says that Lymphatic filariasis remains endemic in 13 countries and areas in the Region which includes American Samoa and Samoa.