African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC)

History and future of APOC: a timeline

1974

The Onchocerciasis Control Programme in West Africa (OCP) is established. The goal of the OCP is to eliminate onchocerciasis in 11 African countries.

1974–1986

OCP uses widespread aerial spraying of insecticides to kill the blackfly vectors of the disease.

1987

Ivermectin is registered for human use. The manufacturers – Merck & Co., Inc. – pledge to donate ivermectin free of charge for as long as is needed.

1988–2002

In addition to aerial spraying of insecticides, OCP use mobile teams of health workers to distribute ivermectin. There is very little community involvement and costs to the health system are high.

1989

WHO declares that ivermectin can be given with “minimum supervision”.

1995

Experts at WHO, the World Bank, and the UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) recruit a team of African scientists to find a more sustainable and cost-effective method to deliver ivermectin treatment.

1995

The African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC) is established. The goal of APOC is to eliminate onchocerciasis from African countries where the disease remains endemic. APOC extends into 19 countries not previously covered by the OCP, where widespread aerial spraying is not a viable option.

1996

Results from a multi-country study show that community-directed treatment with ivermectin (CDTI) is a feasible, effective and sustainable approach.

1997

APOC formally adopts the CDTI strategy, which proves to be a huge success.

2002

OCP ends operations. APOC enters its Phase II.

2006

A Summit of Partners of Onchocerciasis Control is held in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Ministers of health sign the ‘Yaoundé Declaration on Onchocerciasis Control in Africa’ which renews their commitment to eliminate onchocerciasis.

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