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By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

The World Health Organization (WHO) Western Pacific Region announced Monday that Kiribati has eliminated lymphatic filariasis as a public health problem.

Kiribati /CIA

“Congratulations to Kiribati on eliminating lymphatic filariasis as a public health problem,” said WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific Dr Takeshi Kasai.

The achievement was do to years of effort by the Kiribati Ministry of Health and Medical Services, with support from health agencies from other countries and WHO, as well as donations of medicines from pharmaceutical partners, have made this landmark achievement possible.

Kiribati comprises 32 atolls and reef islands and one raised coral island, Banaba over 2 million square miles in the Pacific Ocean.

Lymphatic filariasis is a mosquito-borne, parasitic disease that can affect the lymphatic system and lead to abnormal enlargement of body parts (lymphedema (tissue swelling) or elephantiasis (skin/tissue thickening) of the limbs and, in men, hydrocele (scrotal swelling). It can cause pain and lead to permanent disfigurement and severe disability, often resulting in people losing their livelihood and suffering from stigma, anxiety and depression.