Lymphatic filariasis is a neglected tropical parasitic disease caused by microscopic, thread-like worms. The adult worms only live in the human lymph system. The lymph system maintains the body’s fluid balance and fights infections and spread from person to person by mosquitoes. It is the leading cause of disability morbidity globally causing serious psychosocial, sexual, and social disfunction. In Kenya, lymphatic filariasis is found in the coastal areas where the predominant vectors are anopheline and culicine mosquitoes in the rural and urban settings, respectively. As a result, the Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) program was re-launched in 2013 to oversee the re-establishment of the National Program to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (NPELF) initiated in 2001 for LF control.

The African Institute for Health and Development did formative research for Task Force for Global Health and The End Fund. The results indicated that LF was of public health importance only in the coastal region. Out of the twenty-six sub-counties in this region, twenty-three qualified for mass drug administration (MDA). As a result, the recommended WHO regimen of diethylcarbamazine (DEC) and albendazole (DA) was adopted for the control of LF and the soil transmitted helminthiasis (STH), a process that was initiated in 2002. Several countries have found that, the response to the present Mass Drug Administration regimen has been sub-optimal in some IUs necessitating additional rounds. The gaps in implementation and the sub-optimal achievements of the elimination agenda have led to the need for complementary or alternative strategies to accelerate global elimination.

The Government implemented IDA in the whole of Lamu County and in Jomvu sub-County. These are high microfilariae rate locations and are like other endemic sub-Counties in the coastal region on a programmatic scale. The primary objective of the study was to strengthen community and health system participation to reach more than 80% coverage with MDA using triple-drug therapy IDA. Lamu residents confirmed that they had knowledge of Lymphatic Filariasis, and they had a local name for the disease – “Matende,” “mahende,” “Madende” which is mostly used in Lamu east. Lamu residents noted that it was not main health problem in their regions, but men were at higher risk of getting infected. “I have seen mostly men being affected by the disease” (FGD-Men-Lamu). “Men and elderly people are more affected, but men normally hide in those lessos… they are afraid to come out” (FGD-Women-Jomvu).

In conclusion, for the community to receive and swallow the drugs, they must be informed on why they must take the drugs, how, and where to receive treatment. In addition, having a strong social mobilization and communication component was critical for any mass drug administration program to succeed. Social mobilization and community awareness go a long way in addressing issues related to fears of adverse effects and severe adverse events and reaching special populations such as migrants fisher folks, mangrove harvesters, nomadic pastoralist, urban dwellers, employees, systematic compliance, among others.

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