The Onchocerciasis elimination mapping (OEM) Project Phase I, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has been developing a template of actions that will lead to a standardised approach in accomplishing OEM in the remaining hypoendemic areas by 2020.
By building the foundations and preparatory work for developing, operationalising and the scaling up of OEM protocols, a standardised mapping protocol and implementation approach is evolving. One of the key objectives and actions towards achieving this is piloting the WHO Onchocerciasis Technical Advisory Sub-group (OTS) protocol in selected districts. As part of the selection process, our analysis sought to include ivermectin naïve districts, where we might expect to find a positive signal using OV16, and districts where loa loa was not found to be co-endemic.
A further consideration to country and district choice has been to avoid overlap with any current research being conducted by the TaskForce. With these variables in mind, we have, in consultation with ESPEN selected districts in Ghana, Nigeria and Mozambique to operationalise the protocol, and conduct the pilot. From these pilots we hope to ensure that the lessons learned are transcribed into a standardised implementation approach, which can then ensure that the subsequent Phase II will secure funding and ensure that the remaining hypoendemic areas receive the appropriate actions to eliminate the disease.