13 October 2017

Ethiopia: Ministry Eyes At Strengthening Onchocerciasis Elimination Efforts

Ministry of Health and development partners disclosed that the program to eliminate Onchocerciasis - disease caused by parasitic worm - is progressing in most affected areas of the country.

Neglected Tropical Disease Program Coordinator at the Ministry Nebiyu Negussu told The Ethiopian Herald that the Ministry is working aggressively to eliminate Onchocerciasis through consorted efforts.

"A survey has been conducted in some areas of Oromia, Amhara, South Nation and Nationalities Stats (SNNPs) Gambella and Benishangul Gumuz. Mapping was also conducted in 349 districts that would enable to identify 198 epidemics and apply mass drug administration."

According to him, over ten thousand of drug administrators and distributors were trained for a year to cope up with the burden within short time. The mapping process will continue in the eastern part of the country till next month.

He said that Ethiopia envisions to eliminate Onchocerciasis by 2020. As part of this plan the Ministry is applying mass treatment.

According to him, State health bureaus and aid organizations are contributing their share in eradicating the disease. Progresses have been witnessed in areas with good record of implementation-- among these are North Gonder-Metema and Qura, he addedd.

According to recent studies south-western, western and north-western parts of the country carry high incidents of Onchocerciasis.

"In the mapped areas, Onchocerciasis is highest in places located near river banks with the prevalence dropping gradually as one move further away from the areas. But, the central high lands and arid lowlands of Ethiopia are free from Onchocerciasis because of their geographic location".

The Western part of the country is more prone to Onchocerciasis. The presence of many rivers and vegetation will provide a suitable environment for the vector which causes the disease.

Onchocerciasis Elimination Program Focal person Qadu Meribo also said that the major symptoms of the disease include intense itching and thickening of the skin.

Onchocerciasis is transmitted by black flies and affects over 17 million peoples living in the surveyed areas.

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