27 October 2023 | ATTAPEU – Today, the Vice Governor of Attapeu together with the Minister of Health hosted a celebration of the elimination of lymphatic filariasis, alongside key partners, marking a historical milestone achieved by the Lao PDR.
Earlier this month, the World Health Organization (WHO) formally announced that Lao PDR had eliminated the disease, also known as elephantiasis, as a public health problem following more than two decades of hard work.
Found primarily in Attapeu Province, the disease’s elimination was commended by Attapeu Governor Mr. Bounserth Setthilad and Minister of Health Dr. Bounfeng Phoummalaysith as they welcomed WHO Representative Dr. Ying-Ru Jacqueline Lo, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Deputy Country Representative Dr. Kevin Smith, representatives from Family Health International (FHI 360) and RTI International, officials and health workers from national and provincial levels to celebrate the progress and contributions of health staff and development partners.
Vice Governor Mr. Bounserth Setthilad said, “through hard work and collaboration, we have managed to eliminate this terrible disease. Our health workforce, local leaders, and international partners have made this possible, and we celebrate them and this achievement.”
“This is another health triumph for our country,” said Dr. Bounfeng Phoummalaysith. “Now that we have accomplished it, we will move to the next challenge, the next elimination, while continuing surveillance efforts against lymphatic filariasis to keep people safe and ensure this disease never becomes a risk again.”
“This is another exciting success story for Lao PDR. It shows what can be achieved when we work together to prioritize health,” said WHO Representative Dr. Ying-Ru Lo. “Lao PDR’s success in tackling challenges such as lymphatic filariasis, malaria, and COVID-19 highlights the need to keep investing in public health programs and supporting Lao PDR to build a resilient health system. It also serves as a reminder that life-changing progress can be made, despite tough circumstances.”
Dr. Kevin Smith, USAID Laos Deputy Country Representative, said, “I would like to congratulate the Government of Lao PDR, namely the Ministry of Health and the Center for Malariology, Parasitology and Entomology, WHO, and many other partners for the incredible success in eliminating this disease. We must also give thanks to the Governor and doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers in Attapeu Province.”
Lymphatic filariasis is a parasitic disease spread by mosquitoes that causes the enlargement of body parts, often resulting in pain, severe disability, stigma and associated economic hardship. By 2002, lymphatic filariasis was endemic in only Attapeu province. To eliminate the disease, local health authorities and partners carried out a range of activities including drug administration, monitoring visits, a survey to assess transmission and health education.
The elimination announcement followed years of collaboration by the Ministry of Health and health workers, WHO and partners, including USAID, the Asian Development Bank, the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, Family Health International (FHI 360) and RTI International.