IN a bid to end lymphatic filariasis (LF) cases in the country, the final phase of the Mass Drug Administration (MDA) against the disease will be rolled out in Malolo, Taveuni and the Eastern Division beginning next month.
Launching an intensive campaign at the Health Ministry's headquarters in Suva yesterday, Health Ministry permanent secretary Philip Davis said the public should avail themselves for the exercise.
"We are planning an intensive campaign in each of those areas. Work is already underway on Malolo Island. We plan to begin mass drug administration on Taveuni next week and then to begin the roll-out in Lau, Kadavu and Lomaiviti in mid-March," he said.
Mr Davis said in all those locations, the ministry would seek to use all the resources it had, both its own staff members and a volunteer workforce team, to achieve maximum coverage.
"Messages will be put out through the media and we need everyone in those communities to ensure they receive the medication.
"By doing so they will not only be protecting themselves but also helping to reduce transmission of LF and ultimately to contribute to its elimination in the whole of Fiji," Mr Davis said.
He said trained village health workers, volunteers and nurses would be involved in distributing the medicines.
"They will be easily identifiable as they will be wearing special bibs and carrying white bags.
"They will visit homes to register all household members and distribute tablets to eligible individuals. Only the very sick, pregnant women and children under two years of age are exempt from taking the drugs."
Mr Davis said the five-year MDA program started in 2002 and at the end of 2007, an assessment found the prevalence of the disease had reduced from around one in six (17 per cent) to one in 10 (just under 10 per cent).
"The Western Division had successfully reduced its prevalence rate to less than one per cent in 2014. Similarly, surveys in the Northern Division point to low rates following a mass drug administration campaign carried out in 2012.
"The situation in the Central Division is good. A survey carried out in 2014 revealed a satisfactory state of affairs and a second assessment is planned for later this year.
"On the other hand, recent surveys suggest that there is still a high prevalence rate in the Eastern Division so we plan to undertake two rounds of mass drug administration there in 2017 and 2018."