Human Onchocerciasis (OV) is a parasitic disease that can cause severe itching, disfiguring skin diseases, vision impairment and ultimately blindness. Transmitted to humans by biting black flies that breed in fast flowing rivers, OV, also known as “river blindness,” affects an estimated 20.9 million people worldwide (99% of whom live in 

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Africa), according to the WHO.1 

An estimated 73 million people are at risk for OV across the 11 countries supported by Act | West. Act | West is working to reduce this number by supporting national ministries of health (MOH) to provide medicines that prevent and treat OV via mass drug administration (MDA), and surveys to assess treatment impact.2 In FY12–FY19, over 230 million OV treatments were provided to over 50 million people (typically on an annual basis over multiple years) across the Act | West portfolio of countries with USAID support.3 

Act | West also provides technical assistance to national MOH on WHO OV guidelines, capacity building in OV data analysis and interpretation, national laboratory capacity strengthening, and strategic planning and protocol review meetings to guide MOH on decisions relating to OV elimination. 

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Across the Act | West portfolio, the program encourages cross-border collaboration activities that are expected to facilitate elimination of disease transmission across national borders. For example, the program created cross-border maps for LF and OV for all the Act | West countries to facilitate cross-border collaboration and coordination on MDA, and it will also support countries 

with meetings and the implementation of cross-border collaboration activities. Of the 11 Act | West countries, seven may be able to stop the national spread of OV by 2025.

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  1.  https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/onchocerciasis consulted on 3/26/2020.
  2. Currently, Act | West supports OV MDA in nine countries. OV MDA in Mali will be supported by other donors and no OV MDA is required in Niger.
  3. Through USAID’s Act | West program (FY18–19), ENVISION project (FY11–FY19), and END in Africa project (FY11– FY18).