The positive influence the Onchocerciasis Elimination Program for the Americas has had on Africa programs.
ABSTRACT: A recent article "Is onchocerciasis elimination in Africa feasible by 2025: a perspective based on lessons learnt from the African control programmes" in Infectious Diseases of Poverty claimed that undue influence on African programs by concepts developed by the Onchocerciasis Elimination Program of the Americas (OEPA) is detrimental to stopping mass drug administration (MDA) in Africa. This claim is made despite a record year for MDA stoppage in four African countries of > 3.5 million treatments in 2018, far exceeding any past OEPA or African Program for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC) stop MDA success.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Onchocerciasis is found predominantly in Africa where large scale vector control started in 1974. Registration and donation of ivermectin by Merck & Co in 1987 enabled mass treatment with ivermectin in all endemic countries in Africa and the Americas. Although elimination of onchocerciasis with ivermectin was considered feasible only in the Americas, recently it has been shown possible in Africa too, necessitating fundamental changes in technical and operational approaches and procedures. MAIN BODY:The American programme(OEPA) operating in onchocerciasis epidemiological settings similar to the mild end of the complex epidemiology of onchocerciasis in Africa, has succeeded in eliminating onchocerciasis from 4 of its 6 endemic countries. This was achieved through biannual mass treatment with ivermectin of 85% of the eligible population, and monitoring and evaluation using serological tests in children and entomological tests. The first African programme(OCP) had a head start of nearly two decades. It employed vector control and accumulated lots of knowledge on the dynamics of onchocerciasis elimination over a wide range of epidemiological settings in the vast expanse of its core area. OCP made extensive use of modelling and operationalised elimination indicators for entomological evaluation and epidemiological evaluation using skin snip procedures. The successor African programme(APOC) employed mainly ivermectin treatment. Initially its objective was to control onchocerciasis as a public health problem but that objective was later expanded to include the elimination of onchocerciasis where feasible. Building on the experience with onchocerciasis elimination of the OCP, APOC has leveraged OCP's vast modelling experience and has developed operational procedures and indicators for evaluating progress towards elimination and stopping ivermectin mass treatment of onchocerciasis in the complex African setting. CONCLUSIONS:Following the closure of APOC in 2015, implementation of onchocerciasis elimination in Africa appears to overlook all the experience that has been accumulated by the African programmes. It is employing predominantly American processes that were developed in a dissimilar setting from the complex African onchocerciasis setting. This is impeding progress towards decisions to stop intervention in many areas that have reached the elimination point. This article summarizes lessons learned in Africa and their importance for achieving elimination in Africa by 2025.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Onchocerciasis causes a considerable disease burden in Africa, mainly through skin and eye disease. Since 1995, the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC) has coordinated annual mass treatment with ivermectin in 16 countries. In this study, we estimate the health impact of APOC and the associated costs from a program perspective up to 2010 and provide expected trends up to 2015.<h4>Methods and findings</h4>With data on pre-control prevalence of infection and population coverage of mass treatment, we simulated trends in infection, blindness, visual impairment, and severe itch using the micro-simulation model ONCHOSIM, and estimated disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) lost due to onchocerciasis. We assessed financial costs for APOC, beneficiary governments, and non-governmental development organizations, excluding cost of donated drugs. We estimated that between 1995 and 2010, mass treatment with ivermectin averted 8.2 million DALYs due to onchocerciasis in APOC areas, at a nominal cost of about US$257 million. We expect that APOC will avert another 9.2 million DALYs between 2011 and 2015, at a nominal cost of US$221 million.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Our simulations suggest that APOC has had a remarkable impact on population health in Africa between 1995 and 2010. This health impact is predicted to double during the subsequent five years of the program, through to 2015. APOC is a highly cost-effective public health program. Given the anticipated elimination of onchocerciasis from some APOC areas, we expect even more health gains and a more favorable cost-effectiveness of mass treatment with ivermectin in the near future.
Project description:In Africa, onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis (LF) are co-endemic in many areas. Current efforts to eliminate both diseases are through ivermectin-based mass drug administration (MDA). Years of ivermectin distribution for onchocerciasis may have interrupted LF transmission in certain areas. The Kédougou region, Senegal, is co-endemic for LF and onchocerciasis. Though MDA for onchocerciasis started in 1988, in 2014 albendazole had not yet been added for LF. The objective of this study was to assess in an integrated manner the LF and onchocerciasis status in the three districts of the Kédougou region after ?10 years of ivermectin-based MDA. The study employed an African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC) onchocerciasis-related methodology. In the three districts, 14 villages close to three rivers that have Simulium damnosum breeding sites were surveyed. Convenience sampling of residents ?5 years old was performed. Assessment for LF antigenemia by immunochromatographic testing (ICT) was added to skin snip microscopy for onchocerciasis. Participants were also tested for antibodies against Wb123 (LF) and Ov16 (onchocerciasis) antigens. In two districts, no participants were ICT or skin snip positive. In the third district, 3.5% were ICT positive and 0.7% were skin snip positive. In all the three districts, Wb123 prevalence was 0.6%. Overall, Ov16 prevalence was 6.9%. Ov16 prevalence among children 5-9 years old in the study was 2.5%. LF antigenemia prevalence was still above treatment threshold in one district despite ?10 years of ivermectin-based MDA. The presence of Ov16 positive children suggested recent transmission of Onchocerca volvulus. This study showed the feasibility of integrated evaluation of onchocerciasis and LF but development of integrated robust methods for assessing transmission of both LF and onchocerciasis are needed to determine where MDA can be stopped safely in co-endemic areas.
Project description:BACKGROUND:In response to the recent publication "Is onchocerciasis elimination in Africa feasible by 2025: a perspective based on lessons learnt from the African control programmes" by Dadzie et al., it is important to clarify and highlight the positive and unequivocal research and operational contributions from the American experience towards the worldwide elimination of human onchocerciasis (river blindness). MAIN TEXT:The strategies of twice or more rounds of mass drug administration (MDA) of ivermectin per year, as well as the use of OV-16 serology have allowed four American countries to be verified by World Health Organization to have eliminated transmission of Onchocerca volvulus, the etiological agent. These advances were also implemented in Sudan and Uganda; currently, both are the only African countries where ivermectin MDA was safely stopped in several transmission zones. CONCLUSIONS:Programmatic treatment and evaluation approaches, pioneered in the Americas, are the most efficient among the existing tools for elimination, and their broader use could catalyze the successful elimination of this disease in Africa.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Onchocerciasis (river blindness), caused by the filarial worm species Onchocerca volvulus, is a serious vector-borne neglected tropical disease (NTD) of public health and socioeconomic concern. It is transmitted through the bite of black flies of the genus Simulium, and manifested in dermal and ocular lesions. Ninety-nine percent of the total global risk and burden of onchocerciasis is in Africa. This scoping review examines the key challenges related to the elimination of onchocerciasis by 2020-2025 in Africa, and proposes recommendations to overcome the challenges and accelerate disease elimination. To find relevant articles published in peer-reviewed journals, a search of PubMed and Google Scholar databases was carried out. MAIN TEXT:Rigorous regional interventions carried out to control and eliminate onchocerciasis in the past four decades in Africa have been effective in bringing the disease burden under control; it is currently not a public health problem in most endemic areas. Notably, transmission of the parasite is interrupted in some hyperendemic localities. Recently, there has been a policy shift from control to complete disease elimination by 2020 in selected countries and by 2025 in the majority of endemic African countries. The WHO has published guidelines for stopping mass drug administration (MDA) and verifying the interruption of transmission and elimination of human onchocerciasis. Therefore, countries have revised their plans, established a goal of disease elimination in line with an evidence based decision to stop MDA and verify elimination, and incorporated it into their NTDs national master plans. Nevertheless, challenges remain pertaining to the elimination of onchocerciasis in Africa. The challenge we review in this paper are: incomplete elimination mapping of all transmission zones, co-endemicity of onchocerciasis and loiasis, possible emergence of ivermectin resistance, uncoordinated cross-border elimination efforts, conflict and civil unrest, suboptimal program implementation, and technical and financial challenges. This paper also proposes recommendations to overcome the challenges and accelerate disease elimination. These are: a need for complete disease elimination mapping, a need for collaborative elimination activities between national programs, a need for a different drug distribution approach in conflict-affected areas, a need for routine monitoring and evaluation of MDA programs, a need for implementing alternative treatment strategies (ATSs) in areas with elimination anticipated beyond 2025, and a need for strong partnerships and continued funding. CONCLUSIONS:National programs need to regularly monitor and evaluate the performance and progress of their interventions, while envisaging the complete elimination of onchocerciasis from their territory. Factors hindering the targeted goal of interruption of parasite transmission need to be identified and remedial actions should be taken. If possible and appropriate, ATSs need to be implemented to accelerate disease elimination by 2025.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Currently, the predominant onchocerciasis control strategy in Africa is annual mass drug administration (MDA) with ivermectin. However, there is a consensus among the global health community, supported by mathematical modelling, that onchocerciasis in Africa will not be eliminated within proposed time frameworks in all endemic foci with only annual MDA, and novel and alternative strategies are urgently needed. Furthermore, use of MDA with ivermectin is already compromised in large areas of central Africa co-endemic with Loa loa, and there are areas where suboptimal or atypical responses to ivermectin have been documented. An onchocerciasis vaccine would be highly advantageous in these areas. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:We used a previously developed onchocerciasis transmission model (EPIONCHO) to investigate the impact of vaccination in areas where loiasis and onchocerciasis are co-endemic and ivermectin is contraindicated. We also explore the potential influence of a vaccination programme on infection resurgence in areas where local elimination has been successfully achieved. Based on the age range included in the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI), the vaccine was assumed to target 1 to 5 year olds. Our modelling results indicate that the deployment of an onchocerciasis vaccine would have a beneficial impact in onchocerciasis-loiasis co-endemic areas, markedly reducing microfilarial load in the young (under 20 yr) age groups. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE:An onchocerciasis prophylactic vaccine would reduce the onchocerciasis disease burden in populations where ivermectin cannot be administered safely. Moreover, a vaccine could substantially decrease the chance of re-emergence of Onchocerca volvulus infection in areas where it is deemed that MDA with ivermectin can be stopped. Therefore, a vaccine would protect the substantial investments made by present and past onchocerciasis control programmes, decreasing the chance of disease recrudescence and offering an important additional tool to mitigate the potentially devastating impact of emerging ivermectin resistance.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Onchocerciasis elimination through mass drug administration (MDA) is hampered by coendemicity of Loa loa, as people with high L. loa microfilariae (mf) density can develop serious adverse events (SAEs) after ivermectin treatment. We assessed the geographical overlap of onchocerciasis and loiasis prevalence and estimated the number of coinfected individuals at risk of post-ivermectin SAEs in West and Central Africa from 1995 to 2025.<h4>Methods</h4>Focusing on regions with suspected loiasis transmission in 14 countries, we overlaid precontrol maps of loiasis and onchocerciasis prevalence to calculate precontrol prevalence of coinfection by 5 km2 × 5 km2 pixel, distinguishing different categories of L. loa mf intensity. Using statistical and mathematical models, we predicted prevalence of both infections and coinfection for 2015 and 2025, accounting for the impact of MDA with ivermectin.<h4>Results</h4>The number of people infected with onchocerciasis was predicted to decline from almost 19 million in 1995 to 4 million in 2025. Of these, 137 000 people were estimated to also have L. loa hypermicrofilaremia (?20 000 L. loa mf/mL) in 1995, declining to 31 000 in 2025. In 2025, 92.8% of coinfected cases with loiasis hypermicrofilaremia are predicted to live in hypoendemic areas currently not targeted for MDA.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Loiasis coinfection is a major concern for onchocerciasis elimination in Africa. We predict that under current strategies, at least 31 000 coinfected people still require treatment for onchocerciasis in 2025 while being at risk of SAEs, justifying continued efforts in research and development for safer drugs and control strategies.
Project description:<label>BACKGROUND</label>Since the 1990s, evidence has accumulated of an increased prevalence of epilepsy in onchocerciasis-endemic areas in Africa as compared to onchocerciasis-free areas. Although the causal relationship between onchocerciasis and epilepsy has yet to be proven, there is likely an association. Here we discuss the need for disease burden estimates of onchocerciasis-associated epilepsy (OAE), provide them, detail how such estimates should be refined, and discuss the socioeconomic impact of OAE, including a cost-estimate for anti-epileptic drugs.<label>MAIN BODY</label>Providing OAE burden estimates may aid prevention of epilepsy in onchocerciasis- endemic areas by inciting and informing collaboration between onchocerciasis control programmes and mental health services. Epilepsy not only massively impacts the health of those affected, but it also carries a high socioeconomic burden for the households and communities involved. We used previously published geospatial estimates of onchocerciasis in Africa and a separately published logistic regression model quantifying the association between onchocerciasis and epilepsy to estimate the number of OAE cases. We then applied disability weights for epilepsy to quantify the burden in terms of years of life lived with disability (YLD) and estimate the cost of treatment. We estimate that in 2015 roughly 117?000 people were affected by OAE across onchocerciasis-endemic areas previously under the African Programme for Onchocerciases control (APOC) mandate where OAE has ever been reported or suspected, and another 264?000 persons in onchocerciasis-endemic areas where OAE has never been investigated before. The total number of YLDs due to OAE was 39?300 and 88?700 in these areas respectively, based on a weighted mean disability weight of 0.336. The burden of OAE is approximately 13% of the total YLDs attributable to onchocerciasis and 10% of total YLDs attributable to epilepsy. We estimated that by 2015 the total costs of treatment with anti-epileptic drug for OAE cases would have been a minimum of 12.4 million US$.<label>CONCLUSIONS</label>These estimates suggest a considerable health, social and economic burden of OAE in Africa. The treatment and care for people with epilepsy, especially in hyperendemic onchocerciasis areas with high epilepsy prevalence thus requires more financial and human resources.
Project description:In a recent article we discussed the feasibility of onchocerciasis elimination in Africa by 2025. We expressed concern that elimination may be impeded by failure to build on the lessons learned in the African onchocerciasis control programmes and the introduction of strategies and tools from the Americas. Richards et al. and Cupp et al. wrote to refute our concern and described recent achievements with stopping treatment in some areas.In this response, we discuss their arguments which did not convince us. We point out several scientific flaws in the American conceptual framework of elimination which has led to longer periods of treatment than necessary, and in the use of an arbitrary threshold for stopping treatment. We show that recent achievements fall significantly short of what would be needed to achieve onchocerciasis elimination by 2025.We conclude our response by advocating for a more objective and inclusive debate on strategies and tools for onchocerciasis elimination.
Project description:Since its initiation in 1995, the African Program for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC) has had a substantial impact on the prevalence and burden of onchocerciasis through annual ivermectin mass treatment. Ivermectin is a broad-spectrum anti-parasitic agent that also has an impact on other co-endemic parasitic infections. In this study, we roughly assessed the additional impact of APOC activities on the burden of the most important off-target infections: soil-transmitted helminthiases (STH; ascariasis, trichuriasis, hookworm, and strongyloidiasis), lymphatic filariasis (LF), and scabies. Based on a literature review, we formulated assumptions about the impact of ivermectin treatment on the disease burden of these off-target infections. Using data on the number of ivermectin treatments in APOC regions and the latest estimates of the burden of disease, we then calculated the impact of APOC activities on off-target infections in terms of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) averted. We conservatively estimated that between 1995 and 2010, annual ivermectin mass treatment has cumulatively averted about 500 thousand DALYs from co-endemic STH infections, LF, and scabies. This impact comprised approximately an additional 5.5% relative to the total burden averted from onchocerciasis (8.9 million DALYs) and indicates that the overall cost-effectiveness of APOC is even higher than previously reported.