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African regional progress and status of the programme to eliminate lymphatic filariasis: 2000–2020

  • Deribe, Kebede1, 2
  • Bakajika, Didier K1
  • Zoure, Honorat Marie-Gustave1
  • Gyapong, John O3
  • Molyneux, David H4
  • Rebollo, Maria P1
  • 1 Expanded Special Project for Elimination of NTDs, World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa, Republic of Congo , (Congo - Kinshasa)
  • 2 Brighton and Sussex Centre for Global Health Research, Department of Global Health and Infection, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, UK , (United Kingdom)
  • 3 University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ghana , (Ghana)
  • 4 Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK , (United Kingdom)
Published Article
International Health
Oxford University Press
Publication Date
Dec 22, 2020
Suppl 1
DOI: 10.1093/inthealth/ihaa058
PMID: 33349875
PMCID: PMC7753167
PubMed Central


To eliminate lymphatic filariasis (LF) by 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a campaign against the disease. Since the launch in 2000, significant progress has been made to achieve this ambitious goal. In this article we review the progress and status of the LF programme in Africa through the WHO neglected tropical diseases preventive chemotherapy databank, the Expanded Special Project for Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases (ESPEN) portal and other publications. In the African Region there are 35 countries endemic for LF. The Gambia was reclassified as not requiring preventive chemotherapy in 2015, while Togo and Malawi eliminated LF as a public health problem in 2017 and 2020, respectively. Cameroon discontinued mass drug administration (MDA) and transitioned to post-MDA surveillance to validate elimination. The trajectory of coverage continues to accelerate; treatment coverage increased from 0.1% in 2000 to 62.1% in 2018. Geographical coverage has also significantly increased, from 62.7% in 2015 to 78.5% in 2018. In 2019, 23 of 31 countries requiring MDA achieved 100% geographic coverage. Although much remains to be done, morbidity management and disability prevention services have steadily increased in recent years. Vector control interventions conducted by other programmes, particularly malaria vector control, have had a profound effect in stopping transmission in some endemic countries in the region. In conclusion, significant progress has been made in the LF programme in the region while we identify the key remaining challenges in achieving an Africa free of LF.

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