Additional benefits of LF treatment
Even as communities in lymphatic filariasis endemic areas look forward to a future free of LF, they are already reaping immediate and valuable benefits from the effects of albendazole and ivermectin treatment on the almost ubiquitous, chronic intestinal worm infections (especially hookworm and roundworm) of children.
Helminth infections have serious clinical consequences for maternal, child and infant health. Of particular concern is the role these infections play in exacerbating all forms of malnutrition found in LF-endemic areas, primarily iron deficiency, anaemia, protein-energy malnutrition, vitamin A deficiency and low weight gain during and after pregnancy. Without treatment, physical and cognitive development of children is impaired.
Albendazole and Mectizan® are administered annually as part of the initiative to eliminate LF and these two drugs also have anti-parasitic properties for treatment of hookworm, roundworm, whipworm, lice, scabies and other parasites1. Treatment with albendazole and Mectizan® has a tremendous impact on the health and economic conditions, especially of women and children, including:
• Better health and nutrition for mothers, during and after pregnancy
• Lower mortality from severe anaemia, especially in childbirth
• Lower maternal hospitalization rates for severe anaemia and haemorrhage
• Lower incidence of low birth weight and neonatal death
• Less time and money lost due to sickness in mothers and children
• Greater ability of mothers to care for children and families
• Better work and earning capacity for mothers
Furthermore, these benefits come at no additional cost to the health system or the individual since albendazole and Mectizan® are distributed as the mainstay drugs of the LF elimination programme.
1Mectizan® (ivermectin) has formal regulatory approval for lymphatic filariasis and onchocerciasis and is donated by Merck & Co., Inc. only for those indications.