Video Duration 02 minutes 27 seconds
From: Lifelines

Eliminating river blindness in Uganda

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

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.