Eliminating river blindness in Uganda

Due to a nationwide elimination strategy, interruption of transmission has been seen in some originally endemic areas.

Last Modified: 18 Oct 2013 11:48
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River blindness, or onchocerciasis, is a parasitic disease transmitted by the bites of black flies. It can cause terrible itching, skin discoloration and eventually permanent blindness.

At its peak 3.5 million people in Uganda were at risk of contracting the disease.

However there is good news.

Parasitologist David Oguttu tells Lifelines about a lab in Uganda where flies are sent and their DNA extracted. This is to see if the flies are carrying the river blindness parasite.

The lab also runs tests to see if children have been exposed to the parasite.

Since the president of Uganda announced a nationwide river blindness elimination strategy and partnered with The Carter Center, interruption of transmission has been seen in eight of 18 originally endemic areas in Uganda.

"That is a joy," said Oguttu.

"There is nothing greater in the community you can do than eliminating diseases which are haunting them."

Lifelines: The Quest for Global Health will air on Al Jazeera in 2014.


Al Jazeera
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About LifeLines
Lifelines: The Quest For Global Health
is Al Jazeera's new cross-platform project profiling the extraordinary work of global health workers as they tackle eight deadly diseases and conditions that afflict vulnerable communities across the globe. These good news stories stretch from the Philippines to Pakistan, Uganda to South Sudan, India to Senegal, featuring the people who are working to prevent, control or eradicate malaria, rabies, polio, leprosy, schistosomiasis, Guinea worm, river blindness, trachoma and maternal and neonatal mortality. Online, on screen and on the ground in affected communities, we will share their uplifting stories in Lifelines: The Quest For Global Health.
Sign up for regular updates about the people and their work around the world to tackle these diseases and conditions.
Lifelines will focus month by month on each condition here on our website and in 2014 will premiere an eight-part
documentary series on Al Jazeera English.