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WHO Weekly Epidemiological Record

WER Report from the 2009 IACO: progress towards eliminating river blindness in the Americas

18 August 2010

The InterAmerican Conference on Onchocerciasis is an annual event where stakeholders in the elimination programme’s regional initiative can present information on progress and discuss challenges. The 19th annual conference was held in Río de Janeiro, Brazil, in November 2009; the conference sought to address the unfinished elimination agenda. The meeting was organized by the Ministry of Health of Brazil, Instituto Oswaldo Cruz and the Onchocerciasis Elimination Program for the Americas and attended by over 100 participants. Data presented here are from the conference and have been supplemented by end-of-year reports provided since the meeting by the national programmes.

The total number of foci requiring MDA in the region fell from 13 in 2006 to 7 in 2009 as a result of the interruption of transmission of the parasite in 6 foci. As a result, the number of ivermectin treatments administered decreased from 852 721 in 2006 to 626 146 in 2009. In 2009, the 6 foci no longer under MDA were Escuintla– Guatemala, Huehuetenango and Santa Rosa, Guatemala; Northern Chiapas and Oaxaca, Mexico; and López de Micay, Colombia. The WHO certification guidelines for onchocerciasis elimination2 recommend that foci removed from MDA should conduct post-treatment surveillance for a minimum of 3 years. If no recrudescence of infection is detected during this time, then O. volvulus can be declared to have been eliminated from that focus. Certification of elimination, however, can be considered by WHO only for entire countries, not for individual foci

For the full WER Report: click here