HKI Accepts First Prize For Onchocerciasis Control
Istanbul, Turkey – Helen Keller International (HKI), represented by Shawn Baker, Vice President and Regional Director for Africa, attended the Arab Gulf Program for United Nations Development Organizations’ (AGFUND) ceremony to honor the recipients of its annual International Prize for Pioneering Development Projects. This year’s theme was the prevention of visual impairment, and HKI was awarded first prize of $150,000 for its "Sustainable Control of Onchocerciasis” program in Africa.
Prince Talal Bin Abdul Aziz, President of AGFUND, spoke about his organization’s motivation for the award, noting that, “individuals who lead people back to light and give them a fresh breath of hope are entitled to see their efforts appreciated and their initiatives disseminated so that all communities shall benefit from them, because developmental thought is in fact a public property."
HKI’s work with onchocerciasis began in Cameroon in 1992. In 1995, a major milestone was reached when HKI and other non-governmental organizations successfully lobbied the World Bank to launch the African Program for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC). Currently active in 19 countries, APOC seeks to eliminate onchocerciasis as a public health threat and barrier to socio-economic development in Africa through sustainable mass administration of the drug Mectizan®, which is donated by Merck & Co, Inc.