MOH: Two Areas Pass River Blindness Test

The sixth Session of the Uganda Onchocerciasis Elimination Experts Advisory Committee, has Thursday recommended the stopping of Ivermectin treatment of River Blindness or Onchocerciasis in two more foci areas.

The Committee has ascertained that the interruption of the vector transmission has been achieved in Rwambabya Rwamarongo in Hoima District, and Kashoya Kitoma in Buhweju, Kamwenge, Ibanda and Rubirizi Districts.

Dr Acen and PS Kyambadde
Dr Acen and PS Kyambadde

During the closing session of the three day Director General Health Services, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, announced that the experts advisory Committee has recommended a halt on mass drug administration to people in the affected areas.

Aceng noted that the halt on the treatment is pending satisfactory laboratory tests and will be completely discontinued in 2014. The forum had earlier announced that Uganda has eliminated Onchocerciasis in six areas. The additional two will bring eliminated areas to 8 foci.

Dr. Aceng called on health workers to sensitize the public in the affected areas on why ivermectin treatment is no longer needed.

She explained that the recommendation will be send to the Ministry of Health’s National Certification Committee seeking for approval before post treatment surveillance.

The new status shows that including the newly announced areas, more than 1.5 million people are no longer at risk of getting the disease.

The experts also recommended formation of a committee of health experts to facilitate elimination of cross border transmission of River Blindness vectors.

The committee representatives drawn from the Ministry of Health, World Health Organization, and African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC), will partner with their counterparts from the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

Minister of Health Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda acknowledged these priority recommendations and said that they will help craft local solutions that will curtail cross border transmission of River Blindness.

He said that the results are evidence that Onchocerciasis elimination can be possible in 18 affected areas in Uganda before 2020.

Human Oncocerciasis is a vector borne disease endemic in parts of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and Latin America. It is caused by a filarial nematode worm known as Onchocerca volvulus.

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