After 70 years of fighting an age-old scourge, onchocerciasis in Uganda, the end is in sight


The efforts against onchocerciasis in Uganda commenced in the late 1940s, when vector control was launched using dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane. By 1973, the blackfly vector, Simulium damnosum, had been eliminated from one of the 17 transmission foci. Following a period of political instability, annual treatment with ivermectin through mass drug administration was launched in the early 1990s. In 2007 Uganda launched a nationwide transmission elimination policy based on twice-per-year treatment and vector control/elimination, with a goal of eliminating river blindness nationwide by 2020. By 2017, six foci had been freed from river blindness. This is the largest population ever declared free under World Health Organization elimination guidelines, providing evidence that elimination of river blindness in Africa is possible.

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Date published
11 September 2019
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