Ethiopia is Africa’s second largest country and onchocerciasis (river blindness) is highly endemic in many districts. Yet the state of knowledge on the local vectors and transmision indices is still limited.
PD Dr. Alfons Renz has been nominated to be member of the internatioal Expert Advisory Committee, that shall assist the Ethiopian Ministry of Health to eliminate onchocerciasis until 2020. Fly-catching near Simulium breeding sites in the center of the so-called ‘transmission zones’ shall deliver the entomological criteria for successful elimination. Less than one fly per 2000 flies caugzt on nman – or on a trap – should be infected with Onchocerca volvulus L3 in their head. This level is still exceeded at many sites in the country. Ivermectin mass-treatments havbe already started in most of the districts but in some, the status of oncho-endimicity and transmission is still unclear.
There is definitively a lot of work to be done, but the enthousiasmn and the strong support by national and international agencies make the goal of elimination feasable!
The Committee met in Addis Abeba from October 4th to 8th.
Alfons Renz is supported by the Carter Center, Atlanta, USA, http://www.cartercenter.org/health/river_blindness/oepa.html