As part of our commitment, we have donated over 5 billion treatments of albendazole. Our aim is to donate to WHO as much albendazole as required to treat the 1.2 billion people in 72 countries who are at risk from this disease.
A single dose of medicine once a year for five years helps clear the parasite from the bloodstream – thus preventing mosquitoes from transmitting the disease to those who are not infected. But unfortunately, development of the most severe physical disfigurements is irreversible.
Hygiene, exercise and elevation of the affected area are the simple and effective measures currently used to help ease the suffering of those patients with a swelling. Patients like Algueta are therefore trained by health professionals to perform these measures by themselves on a regular basis.
I met Algueta, who is now in her late twenties, at a clinic managed by nurse Madame Kabre. She cares for about 20 patients, helping to wash their legs on a daily basis. This can combat the constant threat of skin infections.
Algueta asked me if I would help wash her leg. I was overwhelmed by the size of the swelling and struggled to reach all areas of it with both my arms. But, Algueta kept smiling encouragement.
Now that Algueta is participating in the washing programme twice a day, her well-being and confidence has improved. She still suffers some pain and feels heat and heaviness in her legs. But, these symptoms are milder and do not prevent her from getting on with her daily life.
Algueta’s story shows how important it is that we keep battling LF. We are currently providing approximately 600m albendzole tablets to the World Health Organization each year until it is eliminated globally as a public health problem.
Together with our partners, we want to consign LF to history by the end of 2020.