Global programme to eliminate lymphatic filariasis: the processes underlying programme success
Lymphatic filariasis (LF) is caused by filarial worms that live in the lymphatic system and commonly lead to lymphoedema, elephantiasis, and hydrocele. LF is recognized as endemic in 73 countries and territories; an estimated 1.39 billion (thousand million) people live in areas where filariasis has been endemic and is now targeted for treatment . Global momentum to eliminate LF has developed over the past 15 years as a result not only of research demonstrating the value of single-dose treatment strategies and point-of-care diagnostic tools, but also of both the generous donations of medicines from the following committed pharmaceutical companies: GlaxoSmithKline (albendazole), Merck (ivermectin), and Eisai (diethylcarbamazine; DEC), and the essential financial support for programme implementation from the donor community . During 2011, more than 50 countries carried out LF elimination programmes, and more than 500 million people received mass treatment . A principal reason for the programme's dramatic expansion and success to date has been the galvanizing of efforts of all key partners around a common policy framework created and coordinated through the World Health Organization's Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (GPELF). This report, rather than highlighting the very considerable contributions of each individual partner or even chronicling most of the specific achievements of the GPELF, instead focuses on the details of the underlying processes themselves and their importance in determining programme success.