African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC)

Onchocerciasis

A boy leading a blind man

Onchocerciasis – or 'river blindness' – is a parasitic disease caused by the filarial worm Onchocerca volvulus. It is transmitted through the bites of infected Simulium blackflies, which breed in fast-flowing streams and rivers.

Onchocerciasis is a major cause of blindness in many African countries. About half a million people are blind or visually impaired due to the disease. Onchocerciasis also causes ugly skin disease with depigmentation and severe unrelenting itching.

As a public health problem, the disease is most closely associated with sub-Saharan Africa, but it is also prevalent in Yemen and Latin America. In the past, fear of blindness led people to move away from the fertile river valleys in the African savannah, reducing agricultural productivity and increasing poverty.

All JAF documents

APOC wins António Champalimaud Vision Award 2011

The magazine "15 years of APOC"

Map of the estimated prevalence of eye worm history in Africa

FUTURE OF APOC AND ONCHOCERCIASIS CONTROL IN AFRICA

Yaoundé declaration

Yaoundé Declaration on Onchocercaisis Control in Africa

African ministers of health renew their commitment to eliminate onchocerciasis.

Contact us

Dr Roungou Jean Baptiste
Director, APOC
B.P. 549
Ouagadougou 01
Burkina Faso
Email: afapocdir@who.int