Prevention of Blindness and Visual Impairment

Onchocerciasis Elimination Program for the Americas (OEPA)

OEPA is a regional initiative with the goal of eliminating morbidity and interrupting transmission of river blindness in six endemic countries in the Americas: Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico and Venezuela distributed in 13 foci (see map below). This is again a partnership programme including six endemic countries, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), a private sector (Merck & Co., Inc.) a specialized institution (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: CDC) and international Nongovernmental Development Organizations (INGDOs) (The Carter Center, Lions Clubs International Foundation and CBM).

The OEPA strategy is to encourage the endemic countries to provide sustained ivermectin mass treatment every six months with the aim of reaching at least 85% of 503 285 persons at risk of the disease. By the end of 2007, all six endemic countries have established effective national programmes in all 13 foci with the treatment coverage of at least 85% twice a year. There are no new cases of blindness attributable to onchocerciasis in the American region. All eye lesions attributable to onchocerciasis had been eliminated in 9 of 13 foci in the Americas.

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OEPA countries: Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico and Venezuela.