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River Blindness Eliminated in Guatemala

Published: 07.10.2016
Guatemala has become the fourth country (after Colombia, Ecuador, and Mexico) in the world to eliminate river blindness.
This announcement comes one year after the international coalition, formed by The Carter Center, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), WHO and Merck’s MECTIZAN Donation Program, urged for the final push to eliminate onchocerciasis from the Americas.
The government of Guatemala worked in partnership with the MECTIZAN Donation Program, PAHO, WHO and The Carter Center’s Onchocerciasis Elimination Program for the Americas (OEPA), to eliminate onchocerciasis – one of the leading causes of preventable blindness worldwide – using MECTIZAN® (ivermectin), donated by Merck. With this verification, four of the six countries in the Americas historically at-risk for river blindness have verified elimination of the disease.
In a statement from Merck & Co., Inc. (known as MSD outside North America) Merck chairman and CEO Kenneth C. Frazier stated: “We celebrate this important achievement with the people of Guatemala. River blindness is a debilitating disease that affects individuals and their families, as well as the larger health care system and the economy. Until river blindness is entirely eliminated around the world, we remain committed to working with our partners in the fight against this preventable disease.”
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Photo: Suzanne Porter/Sightsavers.
Published in: Community Eye Health Journal Vol. 21 No. 67 SEPTEMBER 2008