Onchocerciasis Control Campaign Goes Digital to Reach Millions in Benin

Speeches Shim

Monday, February 14, 2022
In the absence of scales to measure weight, health workers use a patient’s height to determine the correct dosage of ivermectin tablets to treat onchocerciasis, more commonly known as river blindness.
Photo: FHI360.

In 2021, USAID partnered with the government of Benin’s National Program for the Prevention of Communicable Diseases (PNLMT) to promote the use of digital technology in health campaigns. To improve the use and distribution of medicine, health workers used more than 3,200 smartphones and 350 solar chargers during an onchocerciasis health campaign between March and November 2021 to track dispersal of ivermectin tablets, which are used to treat onchocerciasis. The data, which was available in real time to health teams and coordinating offices, guided decision-making and provided feedback to resolve logistical and planning issues. 

By using digital tools during the campaign, which covered 32 municipalities across Benin, USAID and PNLMT provided eight million ivermectin tablets to nearly 2.6 million individuals.

Onchocerciasis, also commonly known as “river blindness,” is considered to be a neglected tropical disease (NTD), which is a group of parasitic and bacterial diseases that impact over one billion people worldwide. These diseases generally affect populations that lack adequate access to clean water and sanitation. While safe and effective treatments exist, failure to treat NTDs can result in chronic disabilities, including blindness, disfigurements, and malnutrition. These health concerns prevent individuals from optimally engaging in school and work, hindering economic productivity and trapping communities in a cycle of poverty. 

Since 2013, USAID has worked with the government of Benin and supporting partners to treat and prevent the spread of NTDs, including onchocerciasis, lymphatic filariasis, and trachoma. Globally, the U.S. government has helped more than 30 countries provide 2.8 billion treatments to reach 1.4 billion people since 2006. Nearly 500 million people are no longer at risk of at least one NTD.

 

Last updated: August 08, 2022

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