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Ethiopia interrupted river blindness transmission in three more districts

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The Ethiopia Onchocerciasis Elimination Expert Advisory Committee (EOEEAC), during its 8th annual meeting held virtually from October 26-28, 2021, recommended second area where drug distribution could be stopped in Ethiopia, this time in Oromia region (Tiro Afeta, Chora Botor and Limu Kosa districts). Serological blood tests in humans and examination of black flies for parasites showed no significant infections and were below the World Health Organization (WHO) cut-off. The Ministry of Health (MoH) accepted the EOEEAC recommendation, and, as a result, 508,000 people no longer need mass drug administration (MDA) with ivermectin. These three districts now enter the next and very important phase of post-treatment surveillance (PTS) for 3-5 years to be sure that the infection does not recur. During the PTS period, health education, advocacy, and surveillance activities will continue; if there is no evidence of recrudescence or reinfection, these areas will move to the post-elimination surveillance (PES) phase.
Ethiopia declared its first major success against river blindness in Amhara, where it was possible to stop drug distribution in six districts in the cross border Metema-Galabat focus in 2018. This coordinated cross-border collaboration between Ethiopia and Sudan has freed over one million people from risk of onchocerciasis since 2018 (the countries’ Metema-Galabat announcements are hyperlinked, respectively).

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