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Caring for patients in the global programme to eliminate lymphatic filariasis
Abstract Clinical lymphatic filariasis (LF) is a debilitating, disfiguring medical condition with severe psychosocial consequences for patients and their families. Addressing these patients’ medical needs is a major component of the global programme to eliminate lymphatic filariasis (GPELF). In the 20 y of providing a minimal package of care many thousands of surgical operations to correct LF hydrocoeles been performed and national programmes in >90% of LF endemic countries have received the training needed to care for their patients. The creation of educational materials detailing appropriate patient care, together with increased funding, have been key catalysts in increasing awareness of clinical LF in recent years. Nevertheless, the implementation of care for these patients has often faced challenges that have led to delays in fully implementing the patient care component of GPELF; these include locating these often stigmatised individuals, maintaining provision of the necessary consumables (e.g. soaps and creams) and maintaining programme support within already overstretched national LF teams. As the LF global programme moves to achieve success by 2030 it will be vital to continue to focus efforts on the care and rehabilitation of those suffering from lymphoedema and hydrocoeles, learning from the experiences of the past 20 y.