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    Peer Reviewed

    The achievements and challenges of the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC).

    Sékétéli A; Adeoye G; Eyamba A; Nnoruka E; Drameh P

    Annals of Tropical Medicine and Parasitology. 2002; 96 Suppl 1:S15-S28.

    The main strategy of APOC, of community-directed treatment with ivermectin (CDTI), has enabled the programme to reach, empower and bring relief to remote and under-served, onchocerciasis-endemic communities. With CDTI, geographical and therapeutic coverages have increased substantially, in most areas, to the levels required to eliminate onchocerciasis as a public-health problem. Over 20 million people received treatment in 2000. APOC has also made effective use of the combination of the rapid epidemiological mapping of onchocerciasis (REMO) and geographical information systems (GIS), to provide information on the geographical distribution and prevalence of the disease. This has led to improvements in the identification of CDTI-priority areas, and in the estimates of the numbers of people to be treated. A unique public–private-sector partnership has been at the heart of APOC’s relative success. Through efficient capacity-building, the programme’s operations have positively influenced and strengthened the health services of participating countries. These laudable achievements notwithstanding, APOC faces many challenges during the second phase of its operations, when the full impact of the programme is expected to be felt. Notable among these challenges are the sustainability of CDTI, the strategy’s effective integration into the healthcare system, and the full exploitation of its potential as an entry point for other health programmes. The channels created for CDTI, could, for example, help efforts to eliminate lymphatic filariasis (which will feature on the agenda of many participating countries during APOC’s Phase 2). However, these other programmes need to be executed without compromising the onchocerciasis-control programme itself. Success in meeting these challenges will depend on the continued, wholehearted commitment of all the partners involved, particularly that of the governments of the participating countries. (excerpt)
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