Efficacy of home-based lymphoedema management in reducing acute attacks in subjects with lymphatic filariasis in Burkina Faso.
One of the two main goals of the Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) is to provide care for those suffering from the devastating clinical manifestations of this filarial infection. Among the 120 million infected people worldwide, up to 16 million have lymphoedema. The WHO strategy for managing lymphoedema is based on rigorous skin hygiene, exercise, antibiotics and antifungals when indicated. The aim is to reduce acute attacks of adenolymphangitis and cellulitis responsible for lymphoedema progression and disability. The objective of our study was to assess the effectiveness of home-based lymphoedema management implemented by the national health system of Burkina Faso. Any patient was eligible to participate in the study if suffering from LF-related lymphoedema of a lower limb at any stage, and receiving care as part of the health education and washing project between April 2005 and December 2007. The primary readout was the occurrence of an acute attack in the month preceding the consultation reported by the patient or observed by the care-giver. In all, 1089 patients were enrolled in the study. Before lymphoedema management intervention, 78.1% (95%CI: 75.5-80.5) of the patients had an acute attack in the month preceding the consultation; after four and half months of lymphoedema management, this was reduced to 39.1% (95%CI: 36.2-42.1). A reduction of acute attacks related to the number of consultations or related to the patients' age and gender was not observed. Our results suggest that the home-based lymphoedema management programme in the primary health care system of Burkina Faso is effective in reducing morbidity due to LF in the short-term (4.5 months). The lymphoedema management requires no additional human resources, but whether its effect can be sustained remains to be seen.