Onchocerciasis

WHO welcomes new funding to accelerate demise of neglected tropical diseases

©Emirates News Agency

16 November 2017 | Geneva –– The World Health Organization (WHO) has welcomed the launch of a US$100 million dollar fund to accelerate the elimination of two devastating infectious neglected tropical diseases diseases – onchocerciasis (river blindness) and lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis).

The announcement was made during the Reaching the Last Mile: mobilizing together to eliminate infectious disease held in Abu Dhabi on 15 November, which focused on the eradication of two diseases – polio and Guinea worm disease.

River blindness: shifting from prevention to surveillance and elimination

Woman washing clothes by a river while black flies whizz around her,
Salambongo village, Democratic Republic of Congo. © N.Brandvold/DNDi

12 November 2017 | Geneva –– After years of painstaking control and prevention activities, the world is finally edging to eliminate river blindness (onchocerciasis) - a disabling parasitic infection that can result in blindness, impaired vision and skin disease.

Latest data show that globally almost 133 million people received treatment in 2016, compared with 46 million in 2005.
Despite remaining challenges, some obstacles to achieving elimination include 100% geographic coverage, instability and lack of political will.

WHO updates crucial guidelines for river blindness

22 January 2016 | Geneva –– WHO has published revised guidelines for onchocerciasis as many countries approach the end of the treatment phase.

The new document updates content of guidelines that were written in 2001.

A lot has happened since and WHO now targets the elimination of the disease in Latin America and in Yemen by 2020.

Onchocerciasis: Mexico achieves elimination after decades of efforts

© P. DiCampo / The Carter Center

14 October 2015 | Geneva –– Mexico is the 3rd country to become free of onchocerciasis after a sustained national elimination programme spanning decades.

The announcement came days before the 2015 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine was awarded to two researchers for their discovery of ivermectin – the mainstay of treatment for onchocerciasis (also known as river blindness).