Onchocerciasis Control Programme in West Africa (OCP)
The Onchocerciasis Control Programme in West Africa (OCP) was launched in 1974 through the efforts of four UN sponsoring agencies:
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
- World Bank
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
At its peak, the OCP covered 30 million people in 11 countries.
Control operations were initially based on killing the larvae of the blackfly vectors. This was achieved by weekly aerial spraying of insecticide over fast-flowing rivers and streams – the breeding sites of the blackflies. Spraying continued for at least 14 years to break the life-cycle of the parasite.
Ivermectin treatment was added to the control operations following the donation of ivermectin (Mectizan®) by Merck & Co., Inc. in 1989.
The 11 countries covered by Onchocerciasis Control Programme in West Africa (OCP)
When the OCP ended in 2002, it had succeeded in eliminating onchocerciasis as a public health problem in 10 out of the 11 countries in which it operated (see maps). In the 11th country – Sierra Leone – years of armed conflict had prevented the OCP from completing its task. During its 28 years of operations, OCP:
- freed 18 million children from the risk of blindness
- prevented 600 000 people from becoming blind
- reclaimed 250 000 km2 of abandoned land.
Continued monitoring ensures that onchocerciasis does not reinvade the countries covered by the OCP.