Filariasis Awareness Month

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Filariasis Awareness Month is a health observance celebrated in the Philippines every November. The national health observance was made possible through an executive order signed by former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Aside from spreading awareness about filariasis, it is aimed towards the total eradication of the disease in the country.

Contents

Executive Order No. 369

On 5 October 2004, former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo declared November as National Filariasis Awareness Month through Executive Order No. 369 entitled “Establishing The National Program for Eliminating Lymphatic Filariasis and Declaring The Month of November of Every Year as Mass Treatment for Filariasis in Established Endemic Areas.”

The said order authorized the Department of Health to lead the fight against filariasis nationwide. To do that, the department will need to accomplish the following tasks:

  1. Formulate and disseminate guidelines and procedures on the implementation of the campaign;
  2. Provide technical assistance to Local Government Units (LGUs);
  3. Conduct national/regional advocacy and social mobilization activities in endemic regions; and,
  4. Provide all the necessary mass treatment drugs and other logistics, allocate and distribute in a timely manner, and monitor all LGU activities in all phases of the campaign.

Executive Order No. 369 also identified the following agencies as to assist the health department in this task:

  • Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) – Shall issue memorandum circulars to all local leaders, assemble field offices, and help in the supervision and monitoring of filariasis mass treatment in all endemic communities.
  • Department of Education (DepEd) – Shall oversee mass treatment programs in all public and private schools and will inform parents and guardians of target schoolchildren about the campaign. It shall also issue and disseminate appropriate circulars for the purpose.
  • Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) – Shall see to it that all patients under in the identified endemic areas are given filariasis mass treatment drugs, spread information about filariasis, and coordinate with the LGUs in supporting the campaign.
  • Department of National Defense (DND) through the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) – Shall issue and disseminate memorandum circulars to its regional and provincial offices governing the identified endemic communities.
  • Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) - Shall provide assistance in the training, advocacy, and social mobilization in endemic communities to ensure high filariasis mass treatment coverage.
  • Local Government Units (LGUS) and organizations - Shall lead the local implementation of the filariasis mass treatment campaign and provide the necessary supportive drugs to their constituents who are identified positive with filariasis.
  • Philippine Information Agency (PIA) - Shall provide assistance in spreading awareness of filariasis nationwide including those areas that are not affected by the disease.

Implementation nationwide

In 2004, Department of Health secretary Francisco Duque III declared November as Filariasis Awareness Month. All heads of the local health departments were instructed to intensify the fight against filariasis in their own respective localities. Aside from that, the department sought the partnership of various private sectors to help eliminate filariasis cases in 48 provinces nationwide. Out of all the regions in the Philippines, only Region 2 and the National Capital Region are not affected by filariasis.

A “Rabies and Filariasis Elimination” press conference was launched in Region 8 by its local Department of Health unit. The press conference was held to inform the public about the Mass Drug Administration (MDA) program being done by the department for the benefit of filariasis patients in the region. The said program gives a combination of drugs to residents aged 2 years and above in all the identified endemic areas in the whole region whether or not infected with filariasis.

Region 8 is the first region to be declared as “filariasis free” by the Department of Health. In 2009, Southern Leyte was identified as the first province in the region to be “filariasis free.” However four provinces, namely: Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Samar, and Leyte showed were declared endemic following the discovery of filariasis positive cases after the annual survey done by the health officials.

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Pagkilala

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