Distribution of Filaria prevention pills to start February

The Minister for Health, Frank Anthony urges the public to take the last dose of medication to protect themselves against lymphatic Filariasis (filaria), when distribution begins in February.

This exercise would be the final in the Mass Drug Administration (MDA) program to prevent filaria, which began in Guyana in October 2019.

On Monday, Dr. Anthony that a team from the Ministry would close out along the coastal regions and then move on to the inside to distribute the pills.

“I think we will be able to reach the 70 per cent of people we are targeting. The Ministry, the team working on this particular project, has spent a lot of time planning and delivering that plan.

After 70 percent of the population is covered, Guyana would qualify for World Health Organization certification that filaria has been eradicated here.

“That’s something we’re aiming for and in order for it to be eliminated, we really need people to take the tablets. I encourage people to help us do that. It’s for your health. It’s going to protect you.

“It’s going to stop you from having biliary disease or what is called a ‘big foot’ and I think that’s an important thing that we can eliminate this disease from ‘ n country really. So if we achieve that it will be one less disease we have to worry about, ”said the Minister.

Regarding students, Dr. Anthony that Education Minister Priya Manickchand has been hired and they have signed a joint form requesting parental consent for their children to take the pills when the distribution teams visit schools.

Speaking on strategies for the distribution, Minister Anthony said house to house was one approach that could be used as it would allow the teams to interact with residents about the importance of vaccinating themselves. It would also allow the Ministry to address any fears or concerns residents may have about taking the pills.

Another strategy the Ministry could use is to engage influencers in communities to encourage residents to take the pills.

“I’m sure that with their influence and co-operation we will reach many people and hopefully we can get them to take the tablets,” said Dr. Anthony.

The distribution exercises would be done in accordance with COVID-19 precautionary measures and gazetted, the Minister said.

The last distribution exercise took place in December 2019. The 2020 distribution was postponed until February.

People would be required to take three pills: Ivermectin (IVM), Diethylcarbamazine (DEC) and Albendazole (ALB), collectively known as IDA.

Some of the benefits of the IDA include: –

Ivermectin – Permanently sterilizes worms that cause lymphatic filariasis; it is also effective against worms, scab and lice.

Diethylcarbamazine – kills young worms.

Albendazole – agitates adult worms (impedes reproductive cycle); it is also effective against intestinal worms.

Filaria pills are not for everyone. You are not required to take the pills if you are pregnant, suspected to be pregnant, under two years old, under 90cm tall and seriously ill (you cannot do basic daily tasks without assistance) .

For more information the Ministry of Health can be contacted at 227-7986 or individuals can send messages to their Facebook page.