THE Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that one in ten persons is infected with filariasis.
National Adviser for Communicable Diseases Dr Mike Kama said this was one of five important neglected tropical diseases in Fiji.
Filariasis is a parasitic disease transmitted by mosquitoes which can lead to elephantiasis
"This is higher in the Central, Eastern and Northern divisions and less in the Western Division," said Dr Kama.
He said the Ministry of Health and various communities in Fiji have been working hard to control and prevent filariasis occurrence in the country but there are still remaining foci of infection in our midst.
"There are one in every 10 people estimated to be living with the filarial worms with more than 300 known cases of elephantiasis in our communities," he said.
He said there are a lot of people out there who had the disease but are not aware of it because it took years for the symptom to develop.
"It takes about 17 to 20 years for the symptoms to develop and this is a worrying case."
"This is mostly common in the indigenous group, higher rate in males, lower age bracket and in peri-urban areas."
Dr Kama said the ministry was worried and they are doing all they could to control the morbidity patients.
"The lymphatic filariasis can be cured at a very early stage especially on men."
However, he said the stage where symptoms are showing would take time and had to be nursed properly.
"Studies carried out in 2007, have indicated the high prevalence of the disease in the Central, Eastern and Northern divisions of more than 1 per cent of prevalence which warrants more rounds of mass drug administration within these divisions."
"At the end of the day, it is the individual's responsibility to step up and assist the ministry to tackle this disease."
He said sometimes it could be ignorance that complicates the work of the ministry in trying to raise awareness on filariasis.
"If everyone in the communities stand up and assist the ministry in following advices, we would be able to tackle this issue."
Neglected Tropical Diseases Focal Point for the Pacific Dr Sung Hye Kim said WHO was investing a lot on the awareness of filariasis.
"The campaign is very important and Fiji needs to work together to stop this disease," said Dr Kim.
She said the WHO had implemented a 5-year program for research and volunteering work for the distribution of tablets to kill the parasite worm from an infected individual's biological system.
Over 500,000 individuals older than 2 years of age residing in the Central, Eastern and Northern Divisions will be targeted on the distribution of filariasis tablets.