Friday, February 23, 2018
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The Ministry of Health has received $6.4 million in funding from the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) to implement a mass drug distribution program across the country from 2016-2021 to tackle lymphatic filariasis.

Ministry of Health has received $6.4 million in funding from the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) to implement a mass drug distribution program across the country from 2016-2021 to tackle lymphatic filariasis.

The General Cooperation Director of Ministry of Health, Narcisio Fernandes, said neglected tropical diseases such as leprosy, lymphatic filariasis and yaws are an ongoing threat to the public health in Timor-Leste.

Under the program, Diethylcarbamazine and Albendazole will be distributed to communities nationwide.

Although Timor-Leste managed to eliminate leprosy in 2010, he said it still affected communities in some municipalities.

“I am appreciative that KOICA continues its financial support to the Health Ministry to help strengthen the national strategic plan for Mass Drug Administration (MDA), which will contribute to the country’s development,” he said.

He said KOICA had already provided considerable support to the ministry to strengthen healthcare services across the country and increase quality of patient services by providing training to health personnel.

Lymphatic filariasis is a chronic and infectious disease is caused by parasitic roundworms that disrupt the lymphatic system and can lead to swelling of body parts and severe deformity.

The filarial parasite is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. The larvae then enters the body through the skin and is circulated in the blood.

Lymphatic filariasis is transmitted by different types of mosquitoes, including the Culex, Anopheles Barbirostris and Mansonia.

Meanwhile, KOICA Health Adviser Sunghee Cho said there were currently three health-related projects underway in the country, including the construction of a maternity room in Hatu-Builico in the Ainaro municipality, a food supplement distribution program for breastfeeding and pregnant women, as well as the MDA program.

“I think the programs implemented are very relevant to the situation because tuberculosis, neglected tropical diseases and maternal and child health are real issues in Timor-Leste and it’s important to pay proper attention [to these],” she said.

KOICA provided almost $10 million for health programs across the country in 2016, including the construction of a testing laboratory for tuberculosis in Dili.

She said it was very important to strengthen preventive and curative services in the country to reduce mortality rates from disease.

Meanwhile, the head of the Department of Infectious Disease, Merita Monteiro, said the data showed that lymphatic filariasis existed in all municipalities. 

She said the drugs were a safe and effective way of killing parasitic worms in people’s blood stream.

In order to prevent adverse reactions, she said the medication should be taken after eating.

Side effects include nausea, dizziness and vomiting, but should not last more than 72 hours, she said.

She the medicine was safe to consume except for pregnant women, those suffering from chronic disease and children under the age of two.

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