The Carter Center announced this month that it will no longer only control river blindness, but instead it will work with ministries of health to eliminate it in 10 countries in Africa and Latin America.
The Carter Center announced this month that it will no longer only control river blindness, but instead it will work with ministries of health to eliminate it in all 10 countries in Africa and Latin America in the areas where the Center fights the neglected disease. Spread by the bites of black flies that breed in rapidly flowing streams, river blindness (onchocerciasis) is a dreadful eye and skin disease affecting millions of the poorest people around the world.
"River blindness can and should be eliminated, not just controlled, even in the most afflicted areas of Africa," said former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. "The Carter Center is taking on the challenge of eliminating river blindness in Africa and Latin America because we know immense suffering can be prevented if we apply both science and political will to this goal."
Moving from control to elimination is a turning point in the Center's river blindness strategy, requiring that intervention efforts intensify to wipe out the disease once and for all. Unlike in a control programme, in an elimination programme, success will mean that the countries' precious health resources can be freed and reallocated to fight other diseases. The Center officially added the word 'elimination' to its programme name to reflect the new focus of its intervention efforts.
Since absorbing the River Blindness Foundation in 1996, The Carter Center has assisted the ministries of health of Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, and Venezuela via the Center's Onchocerciasis Elimination Program of the Americas (OEPA). In Africa, the Center currently assists Ethiopia, Nigeria, Sudan, and Uganda. At the end of 2012, The Carter Center had assisted in the delivery of approximately 172 million cumulative Mectizan treatments through community-based channels, as well as improved health education, surveillance and data management, and training of community-based health workers.
Please read the full release on The Carter Center website.