Lymphatic filariasis (LF) is a disease not just treatable or controllable; it is a disease that can be eliminated. Indeed, LF is currently the target of a major global initiative to do just that; a few visionaries of the past 50 years did hypothesize that LF elimination was feasible. However, for most of the scientific and global health communities, the elimination of such a broadly disseminated, mosquito-borne disease has seemed highly unlikely. During the past decade, however, both the treatment strategies and the control strategies for LF have undergone profound paradigm shifts-all because of a rapid increase in knowledge and understanding of LF that derived directly from a series of remarkable achievements by the scientific and medical research communities. As a result, a public health dimension with a focus on affected populations, now supplements the earlier, predominantly patient-oriented clinical approach to LF. The early uncertainties, then the essential steps leading to this change in outlook are outlined below, followed by descriptions of the new strategy for LF elimination, the Global Programme created to attain this goal and the successes achieved to date.
Treatment, control and elimination