Operational research to support and enhance lymphatic filariasis control efforts in Eastern and Southern Africa

Start date
December 31, 2009
End date
January 31, 2015
Project code
Total grant
Contact person
Paul Erik Simonsen

Lymphatic filariasis (LF) is a disabling disease resulting from a mosquito-transmitted parasitic infection. It is one of the most prevalent of the Neglected Tropical Diseases, primarly a disease of the poor, and has recently been recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the leading causes of long-term disability in the world. The project objective is to investigate, through operational research, barriers and opportunities for enhanced LF control, which primarily is based on mass drug administration (MDA), in two committed endemic African countries (Tanzania and Zambia), and thereby to contribute to the success of control efforts. The research will be carried out as four work-packages, each with its own specific objective: 1) to investigate basic determinants of LF epidemiology, transmission and control application in endemic rural communities of Zambia; 2)to investigate the epidemiology and transmssion of urban LF in Tanzania, as a basis for its control; 3) to investigate factors that determine drug coverage rates, in order to develop strategies for increased drug compliance in rural and urban Tanzania, and; 4) to assess different approaches for monitoring the effect of the ongoing national LF elimination programme on human infection and transmission in an endemic area of Tanzania. The project will be carried out in close collaboration with the national control programmes, and all work-packages contain significant elements of capacity building.


Completion Report - Summary:

The project aimed to support LF control efforts in Zambia and Tanzania, through
operational research and capacity building. Activities within the four work-packages started in 2010, with locally registered PhD and Master students. Intensive field work, data analysis and write-up of reports and scientific papers have characterized the project. Much new insights have been gained on the epidemiology of LF (and other Neglected Tropical Diseases) in Zambia, on transmission of LF (and other Neglected Tropical Diseases) in urban environments in Tanzania, on barriers and opportunities for practical LF control implementation through mass drug administration in urban and rural Tanzania, and about monitoring the changing epidemiology of LF (and its impact on the vectors and on e.g. transmission of malaria) during implementation of a national LF control programme. A total of 20 peer reviewed scientific papers for international scientific journals have been written, numerous presentations have been given at conferences, and two PhD’s (females from Zambia and Tanzania), one MSc by Research (Tanzanian male) and one MPH (Tanzanian female) have been completed as part of the project. An International Symposium on Research for Control of LF in Eastern and Southern Africa was moreover organized in April 2014 for exchange of knowledge among LF researchers and control officers within the region. The project has successfully delivered significant capacity building, scientific output and useful new knowledge to support and enhance LF control in the South partner countries and elsewhere.