8 Aug 2017

Tropical disease ruled out in Tonga

6:51 am on 8 August 2017

The World Health Organisation says the tropical disease, lymphatic filariasis, commonly known as elephantiasis, has been phased out in Tonga after plaguing the country for more than three centuries.

The sickness now affects less than one percent of Tonga's population, which is the benchmark for ruling out a disease as a public health problem.

Tonga was cited as one of the worst-affected countries in the world in the 1970s, when a study revealed 45 percent of Tonga's population was infected.

The WHO launched a global program to eliminate the disease in 2000, but the organisation has advised Tonga to remain cautious with post-elimination monitoring over the next decade in case the disease is reintroduced.

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Photo: AFP