Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)
- Onchocerciasis – commonly known as river blindness – is caused by a parasitic worm transmitted through a black fly bite.
- Fear of contracting the disease has caused many people to abandon the fertile land along rivers, which, in turn, has led to disastrous socioeconomic effects in stricken areas and countries.
- In Africa, 37 million people are infected with onchocerciasis and 90 million people around the world are at risk of infection.
- HKI helped develop a system to efficiently and effectively deliver preventative treatment, a drug called ivermectin, for onchocerciasis. That system is currently utilized to treat more than 80 million people in Africa per year.
- An annual dose of the drug Mectizan® (ivermectin), generously donated by Merck & Co., prevents symptoms of onchocerciasis for one year. In order to eliminate onchocerciasis as a public health problem, the drug must be given to 65% of community members for 15-20 years, the life cycle of the worms.
- HKI also provides training and guidance to the health workers who are the Community-Directed Distributors of Mectizan® as part of our onchocerciasis control program.