Mass drug administration of Lymphatic Filariasis extended into 5th week
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Department of Health is moving into the fifth week of the third round of the Mass Drug Administration (MDA) to eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) in American Samoa, with health officials hoping more residents will take LF pills as the territory heads into the holiday season.
DoH announced last month the launch of the 3rd MDA running Oct. 18th through Nov. 18th for four weeks, as health officials aim to rid American Samoa of LF after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed the territory is the only U.S jurisdiction where LF “continues to pose a health risk.”
The MDA is into the fifth week with DoH’s Lynette Suiaunoa-Scanlan saying during a news conference last Friday that more than 8,000 residents have taken the LF pills but DoH still urges all those eligible to take the pills to participate through the outreach where medical staff visit villages and makes the pills available at DoH clinics and other areas.
DoH’s Josh Naseri added that the department is hoping to “gain more numbers” of people taking the pills “as we move into the holiday season,” with DoH teams heading towards the central villages of Tutuila.
“Please help eliminate this disease from our community,” said Naseri, who along with DoH officials who attended the news conference again emphasize the importance of all those who are eligible to participate in the MDA, except for three population groups — pregnant and breast feeding mothers, children under the age of two and individuals who are considered severely ill by a medical physician.
In the event you are not at home when the medical team visits your village, please call DoH hotline 219 for information, as DoH also sets up specific sites on the weekends.
The LF pills are available at all DoH clinics at Amouli, Fagaalu, Tafuna and Leone. DoH opened up two new locations at the DoH Maternal and Child Health Program Office next to the U.S Post Office in Fagatogo and the department’s headquarters at the Haleck Professional building.
The third MDA is a joint effort by DoH with CDC, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Pacific Island Health Officers Association (PIHOA).
According to the CDC, LF spreads from person to person by mosquitos. People with LF can suffer severe, permanent disability. Some are unable to work because of their disability — harming their families and communities.
“You cannot get infected with LF in the U.S,” according to CDC public online information on LF. “However, LF continues to pose a health risk in the U.S. territory of American Samoa, and efforts to eliminate the disease are underway.”