The mosquito-borne disease lymphatic filariasis disrupts the body’s lymphatic system, often causing irreversible swelling and disfigurement of the legs and feet. Above, a Burkina Faso mother afflicted with the condition, also known as elephantiasis, rests with her toddler. (Photo: Bartay Photography)

MMDP in Burkina Faso

Estimates show that 35,000 people in Burkina Faso suffer from trachomatous trichiasis. Meanwhile, disfigurement and disability due to lymphatic filariasis have been documented in all of the country’s health districts. These are the lasting effects of long-ago infections.

This picture of lingering suffering stands in contrast to Burkina Faso’s dramatic successes in breaking transmission of trachoma and lymphatic filariasis infection through mass drug administration. As one of the original countries chosen by USAID a decade ago to receive support for mass drug administration in all endemic districts, Burkina Faso has today reached a point where treatment can stop in 91 percent of districts that previously received drugs for trachoma, and 56 percent of districts that previously required drugs for lymphatic filariasis. Nevertheless, without significant, sustained investment to address the disability side of the equation, Burkina Faso will not fully be able to eliminate trachoma and lymphatic filariasis as public health problems.

The MMDP Project is giving Burkina Faso the boost it needs. Complementing the longstanding mass drug administration program, the MMDP Project is stepping in with a large-scale investment and a sense of urgency to improve the health and lives of those harmed by past infections. In an effort led by the Ministry of Health, the MMDP Project helps strengthen local capacity to provide high-quality services for people with trichiasis, hydrocele and lymphedema.

A health worker checks a Burkina Faso woman’s eyes for signs of trachomatous trichiasis. (Photo: Yaobi Zhang)


Although previous efforts in Burkina Faso to provide trichiasis surgery have been limited, they have provided valuable insights. It is now understood that when surgery is offered only at an established facility, many patients won’t be able to make the trip. Those with poor vision and few resources need the services to come to them. Community-based health education campaigns can also raise the number of people seeking surgery.

The MMDP Project is applying these lessons. Our approach to trichiasis surgery in Burkina Faso makes use of both facilities and outreach camps, and employs numerous strategies to engage community leaders in social mobilization efforts.


MMDP Project activities in Burkina Faso began in the Center North region, where the project supported three trichiasis surgery campaigns in 2016. For 2017, the project is expanding to the Hauts Bassins region, and launching major activities to address morbidity and disability due to lymphatic filariasis.


  • Train trichiasis surgery trainers and surgeons, including skills practice on the HEAD START surgical simulator
  • Train nurses and community health workers to conduct trichiasis screeening activities
  • Organize trichiasis surgery campaigns

Lymphatic Filariasis

  • Strengthen capacity of health districts and centers to organize high-quality hydrocele treatment services
  • Train hydrocele surgery trainers and surgeons, including skills practice on the FASTT surgical simulator
  • Provide hydrocele surgery
  • Train community health workers in lymphedema management 
  • Teach self-care techniques to lymphedema patients