Iloilo City remains filariasis-free

THE province of Iloilo remains free from filarial parasites based on the transmission assessment survey and nocturnal blood survey held in selected sites where cases of lymphatic filariasis where previously recorded.

Provincial Health Officer Patricia Grace Trabado confirmed and announced this during Iloilo’s celebration of milestones on lymphatic filariasis elimination program in Casa Real de Iloilo earlier this week.

The World Health Organization described lymphatic filariasis, also known as elephantiasis, as a painful and profoundly disfiguring disease causing temporary or permanent disability.

It is caused by three species of thread-like nematode worms known as filariae – Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi and Brugia timori. Male worms are about 3–4 centimetres in length, and female worms 8–10 centimetres.

The male and female worms together form “nests” in the human lymphatic system, the network of nodes and vessels that maintain the delicate fluid balance between blood and body tissues. The lymphatic system is an essential component of the body’s immune system.

The results of the nocturnal blood survey that the Provincial Health Office held in Barangay Cabatangan, Lambunao in 2016 and the transmission assessment survey among 3,192 Grade 1 and 2 pupils of selected public schools in Iloilo last July 2017 were negative.

“Iloilo maintained its ‘lymphatic filariasis-free’ status two years after the declaration of Department of Health in 2015. This is something that we are proud of and will continue to sustain,” Trabado stressed.

During the celebration, Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. remembered and recognized the key health personnel, some of them were retired, who braced the storm, rough road and steep climb to reach the infected communities.

He cited retired medical technologist Merlene Doloria, the previous program coordinator, for her fervent dedication and zealous commitment in the implementation the program.

He also recognized the expertise of medical technologists Nelson Gabata and Mae Fatima Singalivo of Dr. Ricardo Ladrido Memorial District Hospital in Lambunao, Iloilo who identified the microfilaria leading to the confirmation of the first case of lymphatic filariasis in Iloilo in 2008.

Defensor said the milestones they have achieved in the elimination of lymphatic filariasis must serve as blueprint in achieving the same in the case of mosquito-borne diseases like dengue.

Being a lymphatic filariasis-free province, DOH granted Iloilo P1-million incentive. Part of the funds was used as cash rewards to outstanding municipal health offices with the highest coverage of mass drug administration.

On the top three were Balasan (P10,000), Pototan (P7,000) and Calinog (P6,000). The rest of the health offices in 40 municipalities received P5,000 each.

In the Philippines, the elimination of lymphatic filariasis started in 2001 in 44 endemic provinces, including Iloilo, Capiz, Aklan and Antique in Western Visayas. (Jezza Nepomoceno)