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Final Report of the Conference on the Eradicability of Onchocerciasis

Co-chaired by: Donald Hopkins, M.D., M.P.H., Carter Center associate executive director for health programs, and Maria Neira, M.D., director of Control, Prevention and Eradication in the Communicable Diseases Cluster of the World Health Organization.

More than 60 international experts from a variety of disciplines convened at The Carter Center from Jan. 22-24, 2002, to address the question 'Is onchocerciasis (river blindness) eradicable with current knowledge and tools?' The conference, organized by The Carter Center and the World Health Organization, with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, included presentations by expert speakers, deliberations in four working groups, and a plenary discussion of major conclusions.

Conference participants heard reports on strategies against river blindness executed over the last 25 years, as well as the latest in medicine, research, and social science, and potential plans for the future.

The conference concluded river blindness is not globally eradicable using current tools due to major barriers to eradication in Africa. However, it was found that regional eradication is possible in the Americas and Yemen and in some sites in Africa. It was recommended programs active in the Americas aim for eradication as soon as possible.

For the past 15 years, The Carter Center has been involved in the struggle to bring about global control of river blindness, a debilitating but preventable eye disease. Since 1996, the Carter Center's River Blindness Program has assisted in the delivery of more than 38.5 million Mectizan treatments to individuals living in river blindness endemic villages. Merck & Co. has agreed to donate the safe and effective oral medication Mectizan® (ivermectin) for as long as necessary to bring about global control of river blindness. The program also assists ministries of health, community health care workers, and residents of affected communities to establish and sustain treatment and health education activities.

Read the report: Conference on the Eradicability of Onchocerciasis (PDF).
Learn more about The Carter Center's work to fight river blindness

Transmission of onchocerciasis, or river blindness, can be regionally eradicated in the Americas using current tools such as treatment and prevention (right) provided by The Carter Center through the Onchocerciasis Elimination Program in the Americas. The conference also concluded that Yemen and some sites in Africa show promise for elimination of onchocerciasis transmission
Photo Credit: A.Poyo

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