River Blindness

Photo credit: Bartay

The Challenge

The World Health Organization estimates that 90 million people worldwide are at risk of infection from river blindness (onchocerciasis), an infection caused by a parasitic worm transmitted through a black fly bite. It is the second leading cause of infectious blindness worldwide (after trachoma) and the world’s fourth leading cause of preventable blindness. While river blindness does not directly result in death, fear of contracting the disease has caused many people to abandon fertile land along rivers, which, in turn, has led to disastrous socioeconomic effects in many developing countries.

 

Our Solution

Helen Keller International is working with governments to control the spread and eventually eliminate river blindness and its devastating consequences. We are reaching millions across Africa each year by providing annual mass distributions of ivermectin, a drug proven to prevent and treat the disease, that is generously donated by Merck & Co. We also help train community health workers to continually increase the effectiveness of their country’s control programs.