BELKAGA, the Remarkable New Beginning of the National Lymphatic Filariasis Elimination Campaign in Indonesia
Jenny(Left) and Aprilia(Right)
Until 2015, Indonesia was still the country with the second largest number of people needing preventive treatment for lymphatic filariasis (LF) in the world.
In the 1970s, Indonesia commenced efforts to control LF, commonly known as elephantiasis. However, progress was slow due to the difficulty of program management in a country that consists of many islands and has a lack of health professionals. As such, the prevalence rate was still 4.7 percent in 2014. Thus, in response to the World Health Organization (WHO), which issued the goal of global LF elimination by the year 2020, the Government of Indonesia declared in 2015 that October to be the LF Elimination Month (BELKAGA, Bulan ELiminasi KAki GAjah in Indonesian) for the next five years from 2015.
On October 1, 2015, more than 3000 people joined the launching ceremony of BELKAGA in Bogor. Government officers, as well as the representatives of foreign governments, private companies, NGOs and media participated. During the first part of the event, Dr. Nila F Moeloek, Minister of Health, made a speech and reiterated the Government’s commitment to eliminate LF by 2020 by increasing disease awareness. Following the speech, Mass Drug Administration (MDA) was conducted at the booth. Students demonstrated clean and healthy behavior by washing their hands well with soap, then took two medicines, DEC (diethylcarbamazine) and albendazole following guidance from Ministry of Health staff.
As employees of one of the companies providing medicine, we were invited to observe the MDA. Students told us that while the DEC tablet is bitter for them, they were happy and interested to join the campaign and take the medicine. Other participants told us that they thought the program has successfully raised awareness that LF cases still occur in Indonesia, even in suburban areas like Bogor which is close to the capital Jakarta.
During BELKAGA, Eisai provided 151 million DEC tablets free of charge for this purpose, and 195 regions across Indonesia underwent MDA. It is our great honor being a part of the elimination program and we hope BELKAGA can run persistently to achieve the goal. From the campaign, we learnt that the cooperation and effort from various stakeholders is crucial to programs to eliminate infectious diseases , and that not only the awareness and information of disease itself, but also education on clean and healthy behavior, is required.
With hhc philosophy, PT Eisai Indonesia will work to deliver a great contribution to the elimination program to realize an Indonesia free from LF by 2020.