Japan’s experience on NTDs

[Japan’s Experience on NTD Elimination]

Japan was an endemic country of NTDs such as the lymphatic filariasis and schistosomiasis, causing burden to the Japanese. It is not known that Japanese government, researchers, and the locals fought together in the course of before World War II (WWII) until post WWII. The oldest record of lymphatic filariasis is from Heian period (794 AD -1185 AD), however, the official investigation of lymphatic filariasis started from 1912. As a result, it was discovered that lymphatic filariasis is prevalent in Hachijokojjima island (south of Tokyo), south-east of Kyushu area, and Amami island & Okinawa (islands between Kyushu and Taiwan). The Tokyo University, Kagoshima University, Nagasaki University, and others researched together for clinicalpathology, blood examination method, mass drug administration of diethylcarbamazine citrate (DEC) method and treatment method for the side-effects, and vector control method from 1950s. Based on the results, lymphatic filariasis elimination program lead by the Japanese government was initiated, and in 30 years lymphatic filariasis was eradicated1. Schistosomiasis was feared in endemic areas, and it was prevalent in Koufu valley in Yamanashi prefecture, Katayama area in Hiroshima prefecture, and Chikugo River Basin in Fukuoka prefecture.  Schistosomiasis in Japan (Schistosoma japonicum) was discovered in 1904 and Oncomelania hupensis (Intermediate host) was identified in 1913. These discoveries were made by the Japanese researchers. By identifying the transmission pathway, the vector control for the intermediate host was implemented in the endemic areas. Also, fece disposal and treatment, and one health strategies were also implemented. With decades of work by the government, academia, locals and others, lymphatic filariasis and schistosomiasis were eliminated by 1980s.