The Japan Times

Worldwide, more than 120 million people suffer from lymphatic filariasis (LF), which causes painful swelling of the limbs. In the late 1970s, Japan made history when it became one of the first countries to eliminate LF through close collaboration with affected communities, local government officials and public health specialists.

Now, Japan is working to share its expertise with the region. Launched in 1999, the Pacific Program to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (PacELF) is helping to reduce the burden of this neglected tropical disease in the Pacific.

"To bolster the impact of PacELF’s country-led treatment campaigns, public and private partners help coordinate drug procurement, supply, storage, treatment and community participation. They also share technical advice on topics like health education, surveillance and data management. Working in partnership with government, pharmaceutical and academic partners enables better coordination and greater coverage of treatment programs. Japan, a long-standing partner in this effort, adds a surge of energy and experience to PacELF, drawing upon the expertise acquired during its own elimination campaign.

"More than 15 years after the launch of PacELF, LF is losing its hold on the region. To date, eight nations have reduced prevalence enough to stop large-scale drug treatment, and have surveillance activities in place to ensure they have eliminated transmission. Among them, Niue, Palau and Vanuatu are working with the WHO to be certified LF-free."

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