River Blindness (Onchocerciasis)


IEF pioneered community-based Mectizan® distribution to fight onchocerciasis, the worms that cause “river blindness”, in Cameroon in 1992. Last year, 1,064,588 people received their sight-saving dose of Mectizan bringing a cumulative total of over 10 million treatments over the past two decades. The program began small treating approximately 6,000 people in the first years. Villages were added each year until now, nearly one million people are treated annually. IEF’s dedicated staff coordinate these treatment campaigns, each year training thousands of Community Directed Distributors. In 2015, 6,656 CDDs were trained. We are grateful to Merck and Company for its donation of the drug and our collaborative support from the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control, the Lions SightFirst Program, and the Cameroon National Onchocerciasis Control Programme. In 2016, Guatemala was declared the fourth country in the world to eliminate river blindness. IEF was instrumental in the beginning of the effort to control and eliminate river blindness in Guatemala.