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In 1997, World Health Organisation (WHO) classified lymphatic filariasis as an eradicable or potentially eradicable disease and called on Member States to initiate steps to eliminate lymphatic filariasis as a public health problem. In response to this call, in 2000, WHO launched the Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (GPELF). The elimination programme has two strategies, first is to stop the spread of infection by interrupting transmission and second is to alleviate the suffering of affected populations by controlling morbidity.
In the first strategy to interrupt transmission of lymphatic filariasis, disease endemic areas are mapped. If the endemic areas are found to be at risk, the entire population in the areas is treated annually with community-wide mass treatment for at least five years. Thereafter a post-treatment surveillance is carried to evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment programmes. For the disease mapping, MDA cessation decision and post-certification surveillance, an accurate diagnostic test which can be applied on the field is required.
PanLF Rapid and Brugia Rapid which are manufactured by Reszon Diagnostics International have diagnostic sensitivities and specificities higher than 95%, moreover, both tests can be used in the field. The tests detect anti-filarial IgG4 antibodies, Brugia Rapid kit uses BmR1 recombinant filarial antigen and detects infection by Brugia malayi and Brugia timori; while PanLF rapid uses BmR1 and BmSXP recombinant antigens and detects Wuchereria bancrofti and both Brugia species. Both tests have successfully undergone many multicenter laboratory and field evaluations, including two multicountry operational field studies coordinated by the Task Force for Global Health at Atlanta, Georgia, USA on behalf of the GPELF.
The rapid tests have been well used to aid diagnosis and for research. It has been recognised as a diagnostic tool to be used in the elimination programmes in countries endemic with brugian filariasis. Malaysia and Indonesia will be the first countries to use PanLF Rapid or Brugia Rapid for the elimination programmes.