To celebrate the remarkable progress made against recently gathered at World Bank headquarters in Washington, DC. Leaders poignantly spoke about how this country-owned, community driven effort — the World Bank’s first health project — carried out through the Onchocerciasis Control Programme (OCP) between 1974-2005, and the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC) between 2005-present, is now reaching 100 million people in 31 countries annually thanks to bold visions, clear strategies and the collaboration of partners.
To coincide with OCPhttp//www.nytimes.com/1987/10/22/world/merck-offers-free-distribution-of-new-river-blindness-drug.html', 'a pill donated by Merck');">a pill donated by Merck for free for as long as needed — have transformed the lives of millions of people. Generating blindness, impaired vision and severe itching, among other effects, river blindness once devastated entire communities. The disease left people unable to farm for sustenance and a living, inhabit land in river valleys and take care of their families.
But, with insecticide sprayed by helicopters, and eventually the distribution of ivermectin in all affected countries, some areas are free of the disease. 25 million hectares of arable land — enough to feed 17 million people — are now freed up for use.
By 2025, we can eliminate river blindness in Africa and end the cycle of poverty caused by this horrific disease. But, we must continue to mobilize and pool resources, increase country leadership and integrate efforts to accomplish this goal.
Congratulations to all of the APOC partners fighting for a brighter, healthier future!
Make sure to watch the full video: