In pictures: Launch of IDA Drug Therapy Pilot Program in Kenya
In a historic moment, the Kenyan Ministry of Health piloted a new drug therapy for lymphatic filariasis in November 2018. IDA (ivermectin, diethylcarbamazine, albendazole) treatment has the potential to reduce the time to treat and break transmission of lymphatic filariasis (LF) from at least five years down to just two years. Globally, 892 million people…
In a historic moment, the Kenyan Ministry of Health piloted a new drug therapy for lymphatic filariasis in November 2018. IDA (ivermectin, diethylcarbamazine, albendazole) treatment has the potential to reduce the time to treat and break transmission of lymphatic filariasis (LF) from at least five years down to just two years.
Globally, 892 million people are at risk of LF — almost half of whom live in Africa — with 3.9 million of those in Kenya. We had a team in Kenya following the community drug distributors as they went house-to-house speaking with community members and delivering the drugs to ensure high coverage rates.
Photos from the launch
The IDA pilot drug therapy began in Lamu County, Kenya. Lamu is a huge tourist destination in Kenya because of its beautiful beaches and warm climate. The communities surrounding these resorts, however, have high rates of LF and elephantiasis.
The Kenyan Ministry of Health held an event to celebrate the kick-off of the pilot program in the community. Many community members must be involved in order to eliminate LF and awareness raising events like this can be critical to get local buy-in. Written on the community drug distributors’ (CDD) shirts is “Meza Temba, Okoa Jamii” – “Swallow the pills, save your community.”
This is Mariam Abas, a CDD. She uses her dose pole to check the height of people receiving the medication. Each color on the dose pole represents a different amount of pills a person needs. This was her first NTD drug distribution, but in past she had worked on polio oral vaccines campaigns.
Mariam and fellow CDD Khadija are well trusted by the communities in Lamu Town, which is important since they need to explain to people why it is necessary to take up to nine pills for a disease that a person may not be showing any symptoms for yet. They work tirelessly over the week of the campaign to ensure that every individual from every household is reached with IDA treatment and education about LF.
Not everyone infected with LF will show symptoms, but in advanced stages it can lead to debilitating swelling in the limbs. These women are from Ndau Island in East Lamu, close to the Somali border. On this island there are high rates of lymphedema (advanced LF) partially due to how remote it is.
Besides the physical pain, people living with lymphedema can suffer tremendous social stigma. Often unable to work, provide for their families, or be active members of their communities, the disease can result in mental and financial losses that contribute to the cycle of poverty.
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