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River Blindness Elimination Program

Real Lives, Real Change

Meet Christine Akello: A Civil War Survivor Fighting for Sight

Dec. 1, 2015

Christine Akello thought she was safe. Having survived about three decades of civil war and displacement in Uganda, she thought she had seen the worst.

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Saving Sight, One Person at a Time: Meet Peter Onuchukwu

June 12, 2015

Peter Onuchukwu is a subsistence farmer who has lived all his life in the farm community of Ibu in Okigwe local government area of Nigeria. He is only 65 years old, but ever since 2006, he has been unable to see the lush green leaves on his farm or the yields hanging from his Orange tree just a few feet from his doorsteps in Imo state, southeastern Nigeria.

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Meet Christopher Olanya: Winning the War on River Blindness

May 22, 2015

Christopher Olanya, now in his 60s, has survived the brutalities of war, the trauma of displacement, and the ravages of disease in his native Uganda. He has become an unlikely symbol of hope in the mission to eliminate onchocerciasis, a parasitic infection commonly known and feared as river blindness.

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Reaching Zero Is Programs' Goal

May 19, 2015

Learn the difference between elimination and eradication and how The Carter Center fights Guinea worm disease, river blindness, and lymphatic filariasis. No matter where the Center is working or on what disease, the end goal is the same.

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Meet Peace Habomugisha: Eliminating River Blindness in Uganda

Dec. 18, 2014

Peace Habomugisha has an office in Kampala, Uganda, but it's usually empty. As the Carter Center's representative in Uganda, Habomugisha typically can be found out in the field, keeping the river blindness program on track. She makes sure health workers are distributing medication in the right doses at the right times and health education is being delivered effectively.

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Simple Measures, Big Results

May 12, 2014

A leader in the eradication and elimination of diseases, The Carter Center is fighting six preventable diseases — Guinea worm, river blindness, trachoma, schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis, and malaria — by using health education and simple, low-cost methods.

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Al Jazeera Profiles Uganda River Blindness 'Health Heroes'

March 3, 2014

Uganda's pioneering efforts to eliminate river blindness, in partnership with The Carter Center, is featured in an eight-part documentary series, "Lifelines: The Quest for Global Health," slated to air outside the United States on Al Jazeera English starting in April 2014.

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Ugandan Lab Tests Blood, Flies Nonstop

Jan. 6, 2014

At the Carter Center's field office in Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, a busy scientific laboratory is devoted to a single cause: the surveillance, and ultimate elimination, of river blindness.

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A Family's Burden: River Blindness in Uganda

Sept. 16, 2013

Eliminating river blindness (onchocerciasis) from Africa once seemed impossible. But Uganda, with help from The Carter Center and partners, has stopped transmission in several areas and is poised to rid the entire nation of the scourge. This means hundreds of thousands no longer risk contracting this disease that causes horrible itching, disfigurement, and can ultimately lead to blindness. And Uganda's success serves as inspiration for other African countries battling river blindness.

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Meet Alidu Kemisa: Treatment Relieves Agony of River Blindness

Feb. 11, 2013

Alidu Kemisa cannot seem to stop rubbing her arms and touching her head as she describes the symptoms that have plagued her for more than ten years: pain, intense itching, and roughening of her skin.

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Adaptation Key in Director's Fight Against Parasites

Oct. 1, 2012

In Guatemala 25 years ago, on a coffee farm situated at the slope of a volcano, Frank O. Richards Jr., M.D., sat under a thinly thatched roof talking with an old man. Chickens foraged on the dirt floor, and a mangy dog slept in the corner. As the day's last rays of sunlight streamed in, Dr. Richards asked the old man in Spanish, "What is the most important disease in this community?" Dr. Richards was field-testing survey questions to see how receptive people would be to taking a new medicine to treat the parasitic disease river blindness.

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Meet Dr. Nabil Aziz Mikhail: Tireless Warrior Against Guinea Worm Disease, River Blindness in Sudan

May 7, 2012

Ask about the time he nearly died from cerebral malaria during a Guinea worm surveillance trip, or his supervisory visit to a town under siege, or the nights he spent stuck in a car with no food, little water, and once with three flat tires, and Dr. Nabil Aziz Mikhail will tell you he doesn't like to sit in his office.

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The Carter Center at 30: Leader in Disease Eradication and Elimination

April 9, 2012

The Carter Center has become a global leader in the eradication and elimination of diseases, focusing efforts to build health and hope in some of the poorest and most isolated places on earth.

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Meet Dr. Zerihun Tadesse Gebrelassie

March 26, 2012

Zerihun Tadesse Gebrelassie barely remembers his mother rushing his baby brother to a hospital in Ethiopia.  Many patients, long lines, and few health workers made her wish she had a relative — maybe one who was a nurse — who could help her son.  His little brother survived, but Dr. Zerihun says his mother never forgot that scene.

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Catching Flies, Monitoring River Blindness in Mexico and Guatemala

March 2, 2012

For health workers in Mexico and Guatemala, the start of the new year meant major change. Thanks to the efforts of the Carter Center-sponsored Onchocerciasis Elimination Program of the Americas (OEPA), the two Latin American countries have interrupted transmission of river blindness (onchocerciasis) nationwide.

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Communities Rally to Stop River Blindness in Chiapas, Mexico

Jan. 3, 2012

On a warm spring day in the state of Chiapas, villagers in the small hamlet of Jose Maria de Morelos walk uphill on the town's only paved road to reach a small complex of school buildings. But today is not a school day; today, the river blindness elimination brigade is meeting at the school.

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Meet Jozefa Ortiz Rosa: Medication Restores Sight, Brings Hope to Grandmother

May 1, 2011

When Jozefa Ortiz Rosa of Tarrales, Guatemala, started losing her vision, she worried about her future. Her husband had died years before, leaving her with six children to raise and a coffee crop to tend. Her older children had taken over the farming, but she still needed to care for her younger children and grandchildren.

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As River Blindness Declines, Health Education Intensifies

March 14, 2011

Standing in the courtyard of his school in El Xab, Guatemala, his eyes blindfolded, a boy swings a large pole toward a flyshaped piñata. Schoolmates cheer for the boy, who looks about 9 years old. His friends hope that one well-placed strike will smash the fly, releasing oodles of candy. The adults in charge hope the children leave with something more than a handful of treats.

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Miracle Medicine Mends Nigerian Tailor's Eyesight

Dec. 20, 2010

38-year-old Zaki Baushe holds a thin metal needle in his left hand as he deftly angles a thread through its eye. As a tailor in Akwanga local government area, Nasarawa State, Nigeria, it is an act that he has repeated thousands of times throughout his life. Yet several years ago, Baushe was in danger of losing this skill entirely.

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Making Inventions Out of Necessity to Fight River Blindness

Oct. 20, 2010

Dedicated to fighting river blindness in his native Cameroon, Carter Center epidemiologist Philippe Nwane employs creativity and innovation to monitor the debilitating parasitic infection.

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Ugandan Man Helps Rid His Community of Onchocerciasis

Aug. 1, 2010

In the early 1990s, fear dominated the community of Jawe parish, found in Mbale district, Uganda. The Jawe clan's neighboring parishes, Buryango and Bulweta, were being plagued by an unknown ailment that attacked a person's skin and eyes. The disease left its victims unable to care for themselves or their families.

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Video Journal: Pioneering Approach Brings River Blindness To Brink of Elimination In Sudanese Community

May 25, 2010

Abu Hamad, a vast and isolated  desert community 500 kilometers from the Sudanese capitol Khartoum, is on the verge of disproving a long-held belief among public health professionals that river blindness (onchocerciasis) cannot be eliminated in Africa due to poor health care delivery and the disease's prevalence.

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Integrated Drug Treatment Saves Time, Money in Nigeria

May 1, 2010

Over the past three years, The Carter Center, in partnership with the Nigeria Ministry of Health, has introduced an innovative way of simultaneously treating several parasitic diseases in Nigeria. In this approach — known as triple-drug treatment — a health worker gives a community member three different medicines at one time that in combination treat river blindness, lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis, and several kinds of intestinal worms. In the interview that follows, Frank Richards Jr., M.D., who directs the Center's programs for fighting these diseases, discusses the benefits of the triple-drug approach.

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Meet Teshome Gebre: Lion of Disease Prevention in Ethiopia

April 16, 2010

Teshome Gebre, the Carter Center's country representative for health programs in Ethiopia, likes to joke that he has been in public health service for what seems like 100 years. Yet, it's impossible to ignore the great joy Teshome has received from a lifetime dedicated to fighting disease in his native Ethiopia.

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Profile From the Field: Dr. Mauricio Sauerbrey

Jan. 8, 2010

If passion is a key ingredient for success, then Dr. Mauricio Sauerbrey embodies the necessary "stuff" for meeting the goal of interrupted transmission of river blindness — or onchocerciasis—in the Americas by 2012.

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Meet Alba Lucia Morales: Health Educator Fills Critical Role in Final Push Toward Onchocerciasis Elimination

Dec. 8, 2009

For Alba Lucia Morales Castro, health education adviser with the Onchocerciasis Elimination Program for the Americas (OEPA) – the Carter Center-sponsored river blindness elimination organization in Latin America – the joy of working in the field is its own reward.

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Meet Mustafa Mugwano: Welcomed Home, an Outcast Begins to Heal

Jan. 4, 2008

Today, a visitor to the Mbale district of eastern Uganda might see Mustafa Mugwano happily plowing his fields in the lush farming village of Bunawazi. But two years ago, he would have been found living alone in the forests bordering the village.

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Pitasia Gonzales:  Treatment Gives Hope for Grandchildren's Future

Jan. 4, 2008

Pitasia Gonzales lives in rural Mexico with her daughters, in a home surrounded by coffee fields accessible only by foot. Like many of the women in her community, Gonzales was a strong and capable provider for her family, until river blindness stole her sight many years ago.

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Uganda Attempts Nationwide Elimination of River Blindness

Oct. 1, 2007

River blindness is such a pervasive disease in Africa that many global experts believe it can only be controlled not eliminated. But Uganda has announced plans to rid the disease, despite hefty challenges.

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I Sold My Roof: Farmer's Hope for Grandchildren Includes Futures Free from River Blindness

July 31, 2007

The rolling, lush landscape of the Ethiopian countryside surrounded the straw and mortar shelter. Inside, Ababora Abajobar, 70, sat in the thick-walled darkness. His weathered hands perched upon his walking stick, his blue socks neatly folded around his scarred shins.

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New Malaria Program Blankets Areas of Ethiopia With Bed Nets

June 12, 2007

This article was originally featured in the 2007 Spring issue of Carter Center News.
Ethiopian farmer Mamo Tesfaye is no stranger to disease. Four years ago, he could only sit idly outside his home as the growing season came and went. Afflicted with river blindness, he could not see well enough to work his land or provide for his children. But soon after, The Carter Center began distributing the drug Mectizan®, which prevents the disease and even reverses its effects, in his village of Afeta. Today, Tesfaye surveys his land from behind his two brown oxen as he plows his fields.

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More Precious than a Diamond: Mectizan® Brings Hope to Millions

April 14, 2007

Since 1996, The Carter Center's River Blindness Program has assisted in the delivery of more than 100 million treatments of Mectizan® (donated by Merck & Co. Inc.) and conducted health education in 11 endemic countries in Latin America and Africa. The Center is leading the drive to eliminate this blinding parasitic disease where it occurs in the Americas by 2015.

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Many Forgotten Diseases, One Integrated Approach

Dec. 19, 2006

Over the past two decades, The Carter Center, in partnership with Nigerian health authorities, has created a village-based health care delivery infrastructure to treat multiple diseases simultaneously. Thanks to these interventions, children can have the opportunity to grow up no longer fearing the blindness, disfigurement, organ damage, and life-sapping fevers that their parents suffered.

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Dr. Emmanuel Miri: 'Dr. Water' Pours New Life into Rural Nigerian Communities with Carter Center Health Programs

May 1, 2006

His name means "water" and "life" in the Southeastern region of his native Nigeria, and perhaps no name could be more appropriate for Dr. Emmanuel Miri, resident technical adviser for the Carter Center's health programs in Nigeria.

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Staffer Reflects on OEPA Successes, River Blindness Partnerships in Mexico

Jan. 19, 2006

A first-hand account by Becky Brookshire, associate director of development, Carter Center Health Programs.

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Carter Center Technical Advisor Moses Katabarwa: Proving Kinship Counts in Global Public Health

Oct. 27, 2005

The son of an area chief in the former Ankole Kingdom, Moses Katabarwa learned early the importance of family, community, and grassroots action, dedicating his life to improving the well-being of his fellow Ugandans.

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Innovative Approach to Disease Control Multiplies Results

May 1, 2005

This article was originally published in the spring 2005 issue of The Carter Center News.

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Volunteer Plays Key Role as River Blindness Health Promoter: Making Time to Protect a Community and Fight Disease

Nov. 20, 2003

Working long hours caring for one of Guatemala's largest coffee plantations and managing six children would leave most people little time to volunteer. Jose Maria Pos, 41, thought the same thing when the Mitzimal farm manager asked him to become the community's river blindness (onchocerciasis) health promoter.

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Clear Vision Is in Their Future: Combating River Blindness in the Americas

Jan. 1, 2003

The women of the extended Ramirez family – Lisa, Martha, Maria, Anna, and Yesenia – range in age from 16 to 52 and have been involved with the Carter Center's effort to eliminate onchocerciasis, or river blindness, for a collective total of 25 years.

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