The global effort to eliminate onchocerciasis (river blindness) is driven by close collaboration between research and public health agencies. Researchers seek answers to real-life problems faced by health workers in the field. Health strategies are refined by research findings. Such synergy is a major reason behind achievements attained so far in reaching over 55 million Africans with treatment – and elimination of onchocerciasis as a public health problem.
Since its foundation, the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) has been a driving force behind this special research/control partnership, initially in collaborations with the Onchocerciasis Control Programme (OCP) in West Africa and now with the African Progamme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC).
Evidence from TDR-sponsored research has guided control strategies — from choice of drugs (ivermectin) to rapid epidemiological assessment (RAPLOA, REMO), and community-directed treatment. TDR also has supported the training of a critical corps of African researchers, now leaders in their field. Featured here are highlights of this history from TDR’s recent publication Making a Difference, 30 Years of Research and Capacity Building in Tropical Diseases.
World Health Organization, Geneva. ISBN: 978 92 4 159625 1, 20 pp.