Governtment, Japan keen to address tropical disease

National

By LUKE KAMA
LYMPHATIC filariasis is no longer a neglected tropical disease but a major health concern in Papua New Guinea, according to a Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) consultant.
Dr Takeshi Kikukawa, a consultant medical doctor, said this in Port Moresby last Friday during the signing of an agreement between the governments of Papua New Guinea and Japan for the elimination of lymphatic filariasis in PNG.
“Lymphatic filariasis or LF is one of the most neglected tropical diseases around the world including Papua New Guinea but it’s the leading cause of permanent disability around the world,” Kikukawa said.
He said LF could no longer be a neglected tropical disease in PNG because the number of patients has increased so much over the years and it was now a major health concern.
“When you look at the reality of LF patients in PNG, the overall national prevalence of LF is estimated to be at 24 per cent.
“That means 1.78 million people in PNG are being affected and that is a major health concern in the country right now.
“It can no longer be a neglected tropical disease in PNG,” Kikukawa said.
Health Secretary Pascoe Kase admitted that LF was one of the neglected tropical disease in PNG with very little or no support from the Government.
“I can admit that this disease is one of the most neglected diseases in the country with very little or no awareness at all.
“It is an infection caused by worms that are transmitted to people through mosquito bites.
“People who are infected can develop grossly and encircling swelling of the genitals, breasts, legs and hands and it is one of the leading causes of permanent disability worldwide.”
Kase said the disease has a devastating effect on the quality of life for the patients physically, socially, emotionally and economically.

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