The National Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis from Ethiopia
Lymphatic filariasis (LF) is one of the most debilitating and disfiguring diseases common in Ethiopia and is caused by Wuchereria bancrofti. Mapping for LF has shown that 70 woredas (districts) are endemic and 5.9 million people are estimated to be at risk. The national government's LF elimination programme commenced in 2009 in 5 districts integrated with the onchocerciasis programme. The programme developed gradually and has shown significant progress over the past 6 years, reaching 100% geographical coverage for mass drug administration (MDA) by 2016. To comply with the global LF elimination goals an integrated morbidity management and disability prevention (MMDP) guideline and a burden assessment programme has also been developed; MMDP protocols and a hydrocoele surgical handbook produced for country-wide use. In Ethiopia, almost all LF endemic districts are co-endemic with malaria and vector control aspects of the activities are conducted in the context of malaria programme as the vectors for both diseases are mosquitoes. In order to monitor the elimination, 11 sentinel and spot-check sites have been established and baseline information has been collected. Although significant achievements have been achieved in the scale up of the LF elimination programme, there is still a need to strengthen operational research to generate programme-relevant evidence, to increase access to morbidity management services, and to improve monitoring and evaluation of the LF programme. However, the current status of implementation of the LF national programme indicates that Ethiopia is poised to achieve the 2020 goal of elimination of LF. Nevertheless, to achieve this goal, high and sustained treatment coverage and strong monitoring and evaluation of the programme are essential.