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Summary In 1997, the World Health Assembly resolved to eliminate lymphatic filariasis as a public health problem by the year 2020. By the end of 2004, almost half of the 83 endemic countries had initiated national programmes, providing mass drug administration to an at risk population of approximately 435 million. This remarkable achievement is the result of an enormous amount of technical, financial and political support from public and private sectors at the community, national, regional and global level. As the global programme to eliminate lymphatic filariasis enters its second quarter of operations, there are substantial opportunities to be taken and critical challenges to be addressed. These are the focus of this editorial.