Arusha — TANZANIA and Ethiopia have saved over 21bn/- in elephantiasis treatment, thanks to a newly developed mapping tool by the Task Force for Global Health and its partners.
Under the mapping tool, the two countries have reduced the number of districts that need Mass Drug Administration (MDA) for the disease. The 30th African Union (AU) Heads of State Summit in Ethiopia heard yesterday that Tanzania and Ethiopia recently employed the new mapping tool in 55 low-prevalence districts to confirm the findings of the World Health Organisation (WHO) approach, which called for MDA in all 55 districts.
Tanzania received an overall score of 44, which earned the country an 18th position in the ranking of 47 countries for successful control and prevention of lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminths and trachoma.
According to a report from the AU summit, Tanzania has combated elephantiasis by 82 per cent, Onchocerciasis by 67 per cent, Schistosomiasis (90 percent) and Soil-transmitted Helminths (47 per cent).
However, the country was seen lagging behind in the treatment of Trachoma whose efforts were at a mere seven per cent. Ms Rachel Jones who works with the Uniting to Combat NTDs Support Centre, said the findings from the new tool have indicated that 52 districts did not require MDA to combat Lymphatic Filariasis (LF), saving both countries over 9 million US dollars in related treatment costs.
As more countries move closer to reaching the 2020 elimination goal for LF, there is a growing need for new tools to understand when MDA can be stopped, especially in lowprevalence settingsStopping mass treatment too soon can cause resurgence in infections and prolonging treatment in the absence of the disease is a waste of scarce resources.
The current WHO approach for mapping the prevalence of LF involves sampling 100 adults at two sites in each district. The finding of one of more confirmed positive tests at either site signals that MDA should be initiated.
MDA is known in medical cycles as the act of administering drugs to the entire population irrespective of the disease status with an aim of eradicating certain maladies from a particular area. The confirmatory mapping tool for LF, has already saved money for programmes, as it gives a clearer picture of infections than the previous methods, which yielded uncertain results.