Eliminating River Blindness in Nigeria

Hope for a Healthy Nigeria


Hope for a

The Carter Center is one of eight semi-finalists in the MacArthur Foundation competition for a $100 million grant to fund a single proposal that promises real and measurable progress in solving a critical problem of our time. The Carter Center proposes to eliminate river blindness disease from Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and the one most endemic for this debilitating disease.

River blindness causes devastating socioeconomic repercussions in Africa, resulting in food insecurity, lack of education for children who must care for blinded parents, intergenerational poverty, and social stigma.

The Problem

River blindness threatens approximately 120 million people worldwide. Caused by a worm parasite that spreads via the bite of black flies, the disease is most endemic in Nigeria. With its dense and growing population, roughly 50 million people in 40,000 communities in Nigeria are infected with or at risk of the disease.

The Solution

The Carter Center will eliminate transmission of river blindness disease in Nigeria, creating a model for the rest of Africa and the world.

In partnership with the Ministry of Health and local NGOs, the Center will work through community-directed distribution systems to administer the drug ivermectin (Mectizan®, donated by Merck & Co.) once or twice per year. This medicine is proven to stop transmission of the condition.

The program will train community-level volunteers in the appropriate dosing and administration of the drug and to provide health education to families and neighbors, creating a sustainable, rudimentary healthcare infrastructure in remote communities.

Similar Carter Center projects have eliminated river blindness from four countries in the Americas and from parts of Uganda and Sudan. This project will bring these best practices to scale across Nigeria, demonstrating that eliminating river blindness is possible in even the largest and most challenging environments.