U.S. AND HAITIAN GOVERNMENTS WORK TOGETHER TO ELIMINATE LYMPHATIC FILARIASIS
(U.S. Embassy) -
Port-au-Prince – Together with Haitian Minister of Public Health and Population (MSPP) Dr. Florence Duperval Guillaume, and former President Jimmy Carter, U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Kenneth Merten inaugurated a $1.5 million campaign to administer medication to eliminate lymphatic filariasis (LF) in the Port-au-Prince region.
Lymphatic filariasis is a mosquito-borne parasitic infection that causes painful swelling of the limbs and genitalia, preventing those affected from living full and productive lives. While Haiti is one of only four countries in the Western Hemisphere where LF is still present and approximately 8.6 million Haitians are at-risk, transmission of LF can be interrupted by treating the entire population in endemic communities once per year for 5 to 8 years with a combination of medications.
A strong partnership of U.S. government agencies, NGOs, and the private sector is working with the MSPP to fight this disease, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the University of Notre Dame, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, IMA World Health, and pharmaceutical manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline. Port-au-Prince is the last area of Haiti to begin the treatment protocol and moves Haiti one step closer to eliminating LF from the country.
Ambassador Merten highlighted the importance of this campaign when he said, “Diseases like LF do more than cause pain for those they afflict; they prevent their victims from reaching their full potential and impair their ability to support their families and be active and productive members of society.”
For her part, Minister Guillaume said, “We appreciate the U.S. collaboration and support in the fight against filariasis and we commit to work, with the participation of all sectors of Haitian society, to eliminate the disease in the country.”
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter attended as the guest of honor. He and his Carter Center have long championed strengthening healthcare on the island of Hispaniola, especially against diseases such as LF and malaria.
Health is one of the four priority sectors of U.S. assistance to Haiti, together with governance and rule of law, agriculture, and infrastructure, and the U.S. government team in Haiti, which includes CDC and USAID, is working with the Haitian MSPP to support health services delivery; to prevent and control infectious diseases, including HIV, tuberculosis, cholera, and malaria; to rebuild public health infrastructure; and to support care and rehabilitation services for Haitians with disabilities.