Truong Van Duc washes his leg, which is swollen from lymphedema caused by lymphatic filariasis. Proper self-care is essential for preventing further complications. Photo credit: RTI International/Nguyen Minh Duc

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced the Republic of Vietnam has eliminated lymphatic filariasis (LF) as a public health problem. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) congratulates the Government of Vietnam and partners on this extraordinary, decades-long achievement. Globally, only a handful of countries endemic for LF have received formal validation of the elimination of LF by WHO.

Lymphatic filariasis, also known as elephantiasis, is a parasitic disease transmitted to humans via mosquitoes. LF disrupts the body’s ability to drain and redistribute lymph fluids and frequently causes severe swelling of limbs and other body parts. Painful disfigurement is common, making daily activities like walking and working extraordinarily difficult. Besides pain and disability, many suffer socially and are isolated from family and community members.

The USAID NTD Program began supporting Vietnam in its efforts to eliminate LF in 2011, through projects implemented by FHI 360 and RTI International. Working with the government of Vietnam, USAID supported assessments of disease transmission, evaluations of readiness and quality of services for persons living with LF, and gathering evidence to draft the WHO dossier – the formal document that is used to validate elimination of LF.

USAID is a global leader in elimination and control of seven of the most prevalent NTDs, including lymphatic filariasis, and strategically supports countries to plan, finance, and implement solutions to their own development challenges. Together with partners, USAID has supported the delivery of 2.3 billion treatments to more than one billion people across 31 countries over the past 12 years. As a result of these efforts, 253 million people now live in areas where treatments for lymphatic filariasis are no longer required.

Read the WHO press release.