Guyana records a decrease in filaria, leprosy and TB – Minister Anthony

The Ministry of Health is making progress in the eradication of filaria, leprosy and other neglected diseases, while cases of tuberculosis are also on the decline.

Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony disclosed on Friday, during the examination of the budget estimates, instances of filaria have vastly declined.

He said Guyana is now closer to the eradication of the disease.

“I’m happy to report that of our ten administrative regions, we have good results 8 of those we are not finding the parasite and we only have now two regions where we have to place a lot more focus, and in those two regions which is four and three, there are specific areas within those two regions that we have to put some more focus on,” Dr Anthony said.

He noted that those areas will be targeted with mass drug administration and next year the international evaluation team will be coming to evaluate Guyana.

Dr Anthony expressed confidence that Guyana will get good results and is on the trajectory to eliminate filaria.

With regards to leprosy, this is also on the decline.

“We have seen a decline in cases, there has been a substantial decline and we are monitoring the patients individually and for those in the households with those patients we want to introduce a programme where we can give prophylaxis to those people in the household so we break the transmission chain,” he noted.

Dr Anthony said the new initiative will be started this year and there is provision in the budget for that.

Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony

Leishmaniasis, trypanosomiasis and worms are also being targeted as part of the five Neglected Diseases in Guyana. These are conditions that inflict severe health burdens on the world’s poorest people.

“We are confident that the five neglected infections that we have identified, we are very confident that by 2030 we will be able to eliminate them from Guyana,” Dr Anthony said.

There is also a decrease in tuberculosis in Guyana.

“If I recall correctly, we had 500 patients that had TB, and as of last year we had less than 40 patients and previously seen cases of multiple drug resistance TB, we have bought second-line treatments for those patients. We had last year, less than 5, so in fact what we are seeing is a decline of TB cases,” he stated.

According to Dr Anthony, the ministry has mapped where the cases are coming from and has been actively working to treat those patients.

“One of the attractions to this programme because as you know they have to be on treatment for six to nine months. We have noticed that some persons are homeless who have TB and we have been encouraging those persons to come to the TB department, where we provide them with hot meals, and for most of those persons who have been coming we have been able to work with them and we have seen good results,” Dr Anthony said.

There are also provisions for training for the departments that will be working on the elimination of these diseases.

National Aids Programme Secretariat has been allocated $19 million, for work in the control of HIV and STIs.

$12 million was also set aside for epidemiology training.

“This will be done across the board because we want to strengthen our surveillance system, and we will be setting up a new electronic surveillance system during this year, to track various infectious diseases across Guyana,” Dr Anthony noted.

An additional, $12.5 million have also been earmarked to train persons to fight filaria as the ministry works towards the eradication of the disease.

While $11million has also been allocated to work with miners to train them to detect and treat malaria.

“This here is a new initiative and because we are using rapid kits it’s much easier for us to train that person,” he said.

And, $7 million was set aside to train persons to detect leprosy and another $6 million to train healthcare workers on dengue.

Funding was also allocated for training in port health and to do entomology to understand the different species of mosquitoes and their habits, to better control them. (DPI)