Elephantiasis often leads to permanent disfigurement and disability, causing people to suffer from stigma, depression and anxiety. Photo by AFP
Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien received a certificate for the elimination from the World Health Organization in Manila on October 8.
“Lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis) used to be endemic in several parts of Vietnam, putting millions of people at risk. Thanks to decades of support from WHO and other development partners, we have finally achieved our goal of a ‘Vietnam Free oflymphatic filariasis’,' Tien said.
References to elephantiasis in Vietnam date back more than a century.
With improvements in housing, increased use of bed nets and selective treatment, infections gradually declined.
Thanks to an annual mass treatment campaign carried out between 2002 and 2008 and continuous surveillance, the transmission of the disease was stopped in the remaining endemic areas.
Since last year, Vietnam has established a pioneering training program to ensure sustained care for people with complications from the mosquito-borne disease.
Elephantiasis is painful and often leads to permanent disfigurement and disability, causing people to lose their livelihoods and suffer from stigma, depression and anxiety.
According to WHO Western Pacific Region, it’s one of the 15 neglected tropical diseases that are endemic in the area.
Since the Global Program to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis was launched in 2000, 11 countries and territories have succeeded in eliminating lymphatic filariasis as a public health problem: Cambodia, China, Cook Islands, Niue, the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Korea, Tonga, Vanuatu, Futuna and recently, Palau, Wallis and Vietnam.
The disease remains endemic in 13 countries and areas in the region: American Samoa, Brunei, Darussalam, Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Laos, Malaysia, Federated States of Micronesia, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Tuvalu.