Onchocerciasis elimination mapping (OEM) is the process of assessing if areas currently not being treated for river blindness need to be included in treatment programmes. Lack of standardisation and a clear process to follow has hampered completion of OEM.
The small-scale pilot surveys took place in Nigeria and Ghana in 2018 and early 2019. These surveys were in areas that have never been treated with ivermectin (the medication used to control the spread of the disease). The aim was to refine and validate the protocol for conducting OEM, as recommended by the WHO’s Onchocerciasis Technical Advisory Subgroup, and develop technical expertise in the project countries as well as standardised tools to ensure future mapping adheres to WHO standards.
In November 2019, the project expanded across Mozambique to help assess the prevalence of river blindness in the country. Mapping took place in seven districts and more 10,200 people were surveyed. This was the first time river blindness has been surveyed in Mozambique using modern techniques.
The collaborative project is being carried out in close coordination with the WHO and WHO/ESPEN, the Task Force for Global Health, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and many other partners.
The gallery below shows photos from the project in Nigeria and Mozambique.
The results from the countries will establish best practices for data collection, data visualisation and decision-making, with a view to create a template for scaling up OEM in other countries. The project will also continue coordinating with partners focused on strengthening national laboratory capacity for diagnostic processing.
National onchocerciasis programmes and partners will then be encouraged to prepare for OEM by reviewing their own data and identifying districts that have not yet been treated or mapped.
The aim for OEM is for river blindness to be eliminated, and for partners to collaborate to map onchocerciasis in areas of Africa where the disease is less prevalent.
Clécio and Silvia were paired together during a three-day OEM training that took place in Nampula, Mozambique, and they have since become good friends. But what inspired them to take part in the project?Read their stories