Non-compliance to mass drug administration was a serious obstacle in eliminating lymphatic filariasis, more commonly known as elephantiasis, according to a study funded by the Department of Science and Technology - Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD). This non-compliance is also serves as a reservoir for the parasite and permits recurrence of infection, added Professor Serafin O. Malecosio, Jr. of the University of the Philippines Visayas and DOST-PCHRD research grantee.

Professor Malecosio presented his study entitled “Compliance Rate and Predictors of Non-Compliance to Mass Drug Administration (MDA) for the Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis in Iloilo Province” during the Health Research Utilization Forum held on February 22, 2016 at the Eon Centennial Hotel in Iloilo City as [art of DOST’s Science Nation Tour.

In the study, Malecosio found out that there is prevalence of elephantiasis in 44 provinces, 21 of which are in Mindanao, 11 in Luzon and eight in the Visayas. Elephantiasis is a parasitic disease caused by microscopic, thread like worms that live in the human lymph system and is transmitted by mosquitoes. The effect of the disease is the swelling of the affected part of the body resembling that of elephant legs.

According to Prof. Malecosio, it was in 2007 that the first case of elephantiasis in Iloilo was reported and in 2008, the first round of the mass drug administration (MDA) was conducted to arrest the spread of the disease.

MDA entails administering a therapeutic dose of drug, usually in the form of tablets, to an entire population (barangay, town or province).

His study showed that non-compliance with MDA was a serious obstacle in eliminating elephantiasis, serves as a reservoir for the parasite, and permits recrudescence of infection.

His study zeroed in on Iloilo province composed of 42 municipalities and 1,901 villages/barangays with a total population of roughly 1.7 million. The study’s population survey included individuals with age of two years and above. 

The study also revealed that non-compliance to MDA is associated with false knowledge of signs and symptoms, location of drug dispensing (either home or school), and people dispensing the drug --more often it is done by barangay health workers (BHW), relatives or friends. Noteworthy is the finding that the drug is dispensed more by BHWs (59%) compared with midwives (29.9%). 

Reactors to the study included Dr. Patricia Grace S. Trabado, provincial health officer, and Dr. Marie Jocelyn J. Te, medical coordinator for LF of the Department of Health Regional Office VI.

The health research forum also featured Dr. Renilyn P. Reyes, a training scholar in health research of the Western Visayas Health Research and Development Consortium (WVHRDC), who talked about the Effect of 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program) on Selected Child Health Indicators in Western Visayas. 

Also presented during the forum was the health research innovation called the “e-HATID”, an initiative of the Institute for Philippine Culture of the Ateneo de Manila University, by Dr. Dennis B. Batangan. In a workshop, participants had the opportunity to use the e-HATID, with Professor Christine C. Villanueva of the WVHRDC as facilitator.

The forum, featured in DOST’s Science Nation Tour in Iloilo for the Western Visayas is jointly organized with the Department of Health Region VI and the DOST-PCHRD through the assistance of DOST Region VI and in partnership with the WVHRDC. The event was held to promote a free exchange of research initiatives among medical professionals towards helping improve the delivery of health services in the country.

“The DOST, through the PCHRD has always been at the forefront of pushing health research in the field of drug discovery to a higher level as well as developing innovative health systems that would benefit Mang Juan and Aling Maria,” stated DOST Secretary Mario G. Montejo during one of his press briefings.

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