Nigeria interrupts River Blindness in Abia, Anambra, Enugu, and Imo states


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the Carter Center He congratulated Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Health for halting transmission of onchocerciasis in four of the country’s 36 states, protecting 18.9 million people from the second largest infectious cause of blindness. The public health victory – the largest decision to discontinue treatment in the history of the global campaign to combat river blindness – was announced in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, after the International Day for Neglected Tropical Diseases on January 30.

Photo/Robert Herrmann

“The scale of Nigeria’s recent ‘discontinuation order’ is incredible. It is the largest in the history of the global campaign. For perspective, prior to this decision, the cumulative 16-year total for 12 countries assisted by the Carter Center was about 12.3 million. Gregory Nuland said. , director of the River Blindness Elimination Program at The Carter Center, says that number is nearly double that number.

River blindness (onchocerciasis) is a parasitic disease transmitted through the bites of infected black flies. It can cause rash, discoloration, intense itching, and eventually vision loss. The Carter Center assists the Department of Health in training staff and volunteers in health education and mass distribution of Mectizan.®Donated by Merck & Company, Rahway, New Jersey.

The National Committee for the Eradication of Onchocerciasis in Nigeria has identified and informed Federal Minister of Health Dr Osaje Ehanir that four states supported by the Carter Center (Abia, Anambra, Enugu and Imo) have halted transmission of onchocerciasis and met WHO criteria for discontinuing Mectizan treatment for river blindness. The minister’s decision, recommended by NOEC, covers a record 18.9 million people. About 5 million people in these areas still need mectizan treatments along with albendazole for lymphatic filariasis, another parasitic disease. The program believes that these areas will soon stop transmission of this disease as well, enabling post-treatment monitoring of both diseases to begin.

Laboratories supported by the Carter Center contributed to the historic decision, processing 52,187 black flies and 12,718 blood samples to prove interruption of transmission.

The announcement follows news last year that the Carter Center has helped Plateau countries and Nasarawa It was the first in Nigeria to complete post-treatment surveillance for river blindness and to achieve a state of elimination of transmission.

“For 30 years, we have worked with Nigerians at all levels to eradicate this debilitating disease,” said Dr. Emmanuel Meri, Carter Country Representative and one of the original team members to help launch the country’s national program in the early 1990s. “Together, we are committed to the goal of eliminating river blindness nationwide.”

As a leader in eliminating river blindness, the Carter Center has helped the first four countries in the world—Colombia (2013), Ecuador (2014), Mexico (2015), and Guatemala (2016)—to eliminate transmission of the disease through community-directed mectizan. Treatments and health education, securing official recognition from the World Health Organization. Since 1995, the Center has assisted dozens of countries, including Nigeria, with the cumulative delivery of more than 500 million Mectisan treatments for onchocerciasis. Currently, more than 31 million people no longer require treatment in Carter Center-supported regions of Latin America and Africa.

Together with its partners, The Carter Center is committed to eliminating river blindness on World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day and every day. Neglected tropical diseases are a group of 20 diseases — six of which the Carter Center treats — that are preventable and treatable, but still affect 1.7 billion people worldwide. It usually affects people who do not have access to the basics – clean water, nutritious food and sanitation. Neglected tropical diseases cost developing countries billions of dollars annually in lost productivity.

Since 1988, The Carter Center and the Nigerian Ministry of Health have collaborated to eliminate neglected tropical diseases across the country, including WHO certification for nationwide elimination of Guinea worm disease (2013), and the elimination of lymphatic filariasis and the transmission of onchocerciasis in Plateau states and Nasarawa (2017), 2021 respectively) and the elimination of trachoma as a public health problem (2018) in the same two states.

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