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Lymphatic filariasis afflicts 68 million people in 73 countries, including 17 million persons living with chronic lymphedema. The Global Program to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis aims to stop new infections and to provide care for persons already affected, but morbidity management programs have been initiated in only 24 endemic countries. We examine the economic costs and benefits of alleviating chronic lymphedema and its effects through a simple limb-care program. For Khurda District, Odisha State, India, we estimated lifetime medical costs and earnings losses due to chronic lymphedema and acute dermatolymphangioadenitis (ADLA) with and without a community-based limb-care program. The program would reduce economic costs of lymphedema and ADLA over 60 years by 55%. Savings of US$1,648 for each affected person in the workforce are equivalent to 1,258 days of labor. Per-person savings are more than 130 times the per-person cost of the program. Chronic lymphedema and ADLA impose a substantial physical and economic burden on the population in filariasis-endemic areas. Low-cost programs for lymphedema management based on limb washing and topical medication for infection are effective in reducing the number of ADLA episodes and stopping progression of disabling and disfiguring lymphedema. With reduced disability, people are able to work longer hours, more days per year, and in more strenuous, higher-paying jobs, resulting in an important economic benefit to themselves, their families, and their communities. Mitigating the severity of lymphedema and ADLA also reduces out-of-pocket medical expense.

Disclaimer: The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of CDC.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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