Onchocerciasis (river blindness)
Onchocerciasis is an eye and skin disease caused by a worm (filaria) known scientifically as Onchocerca volvulus . It is the world's second leading infectious cause of blindness.
The international response
Three major WHO programmes summarize the international community's response towards onchocerciasis:
- Onchocerciasis Control Programme (OCP)
- African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC)
- Onchocerciasis Elimination Program for the Americas (OEPA)
From the late 1980s onwards, the programmes concentrated on treating infected people with ivermectin - a safe, effective drug for killing the microfilariae that cause onchocerciasis.