African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC)

Epidemiological evaluation and disease surveillance

Epidemiological evaluation

Between 1999 and 2005, studies were carried out to assess the long-term impact of APOC’s operations. The results showed a significant reduction in the prevalence of live microfilaria (larval forms of the Onchocerca volvulus parasite) in the eye. They also indicated that ivermectin treatment can prevent onchocercal blindness and severe itching.

In the coming years, APOC will establish sentinel villages in as many project sites as possible to evaluate CDTI project performance using epidemiological trend indicators.

Disease monitoring and surveillance

APOC’s role in disease surveillance is to encourage countries to integrate onchocerciasis control activities into their national disease surveillance systems. Between 2008 and 2012, APOC plans to provide financial support to the Multi-Disease Surveillance Centre (MDSC) in order to meet this objective.

In collaboration with the MDSC, APOC also plans to encourage countries to increase the priority given to disease surveillance issues in their health sector strategies.

The Multi-Disease Surveillance Centre (MDSC)

The MDSC assists countries in planning and implementing an integrated disease surveillance system. This system includes active surveillance for onchocerciasis recrudescence.

The MDSC was set up to monitor onchocerciasis in the countries covered by the Onchcocerciasis Control Programme for West Africa (OCP). The same now needs to be done in APOC countries. MDSC will train epidemiologists, entomologists and technicians on all aspects of onchocerciasis epidemiological and entomological surveillance and evaluation.

The MDSC will also analyze parasites and blackflies using DNA probes and advise countries on transmission levels.

The role of countries is to plan for and execute monitoring and surveillance activities. They also analyze and apply the findings of these activities to decision-making. WHO assists countries in developing policies, guidelines and strategies for monitoring and surveillance of onchocerciasis.