17 Nov 2008

Fiji distributes free medication in the eastern division to wipe out elephantitis

8:02 pm on 17 November 2008

Fiji's health officials are calling on all people in the eastern division to take medication against the lymphatic illness, elephantitis, to wipe it out by 2010.

The infection, which is caused by parasitic worms, is transmitted by mosquitoes and it can cause severe swelling of the legs, arms, genitals and breasts.

The National Center for Virology's, Dr Eric Rafai, says the disease is most common in the eastern division and health officials are this month distributing medication free of charge.

"You may have people that do not have the signs of the disease, but they may have the worm. So there needs to be an effort from everyone every year to take the tablets so that the disease is eliminated. This is the strategy on the islands in the eastern division. We try to make sure that the whole population is covered."

Dr Eric Rafai says about nine percent of the population suffer from the illness and the goal is to get it down to less than one percent in two years time.