By: Alanna Shaikh
On August 21, the World Health Organization declared the Compostela Valley of Davao region, Philippines, to be Filariasis free. Considering that ten years ago filariasis was endemic in the Philippines, that’s an impressive accomplishment.
This 2003 article about poverty and filariasis in the Philippines is a useful reminder that eliminating the disease is about more than the direct disfigurement and injury caused by the diseases. The filariasis-endemic provinces in the Philippines are also its poorest. Eliminating LF in the Compostela Valley therefore represents a sign that the government is paying more attention to its poorest citizens and the removal of a barrier to success on the part of poor people. Giant swollen limbs don’t make gainful employment easy, especially in poor areas with low educational attainment.
The Compostela Valley province – known apparently as Comval by Filipinos – certainly fits that bill. It has an economy heavily dependent on agriculture and mining. The day before the LF announcement was made, it saw mass possession by malevolent spirits. As you can guess, being afflicted by a severe disabling disease in this region is going to be a serious impediment to financial success or happiness. Read more: Good News from the Philippines