The World Bank and Partners Celebrate 40 Years of Success in Controlling River Blindness


This Friday, the World Bank, the World Health Organization (WHO), Merck and other partners will celebrate 40 years of success in controlling river blindness in Africa. The African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC) is recognized as one of the most successful public-private health partnerships in Africa – treating 100 million people a year in 31 African countries with free medicines donated by Merck & Co.

The World Bank has a long-established history of fighting neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). In fact, the 1974 agreement by then World Bank President McNamara to establish a partnership to Control River Blindness was arguably the first World Bank health project.

To celebrate APOC’s 40 years of success, the World Bank will host a 40th anniversary learning event and summit this Friday, June 20 at the World Bank Headquarters in Washington, DC.

Friday’s event will highlight lessons learned from APOC’s 40 years of efforts to control onchocerciasis, the history of this historic partnership, and the impact of its programs and the future of NTD control and elimination. The day’s panels will be filled with distinguished experts in global health, nutrition and NTDs.

The learning panels will conclude with a celebratory summit and reception launched by World Bank President Dr. Jim Yong Kim. Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra will also be in attendance as a guest of honor. Panelists at the summit will celebrate the history and future of APOC from the continental perspective.

We hope you’ll join the World Bank and its partners for this celebration. You may find more information about the event here. RSVP to

The day-long event will take place at 1818 H St. NW, Washington DC in the World Bank’s Preston Auditorium and Wolfenshon Auditorium – beginning at 9am and ending at 8pm.

For more information, and to view the live stream, click here. Be a part of the conversation by following #WBlive and #NTDs on Twitter. 

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