100&Change: 2021

Removing the Greatest Obstacle to the Elimination of River Blindness

The Task Force for Global Health

Our partnership removes the greatest obstacle to the elimination of river blindness by scaling up an innovative and safe treatment strategy in 10 African countries.

Submitted: May 2021
DOWNLOAD: Project Factsheet
Two-page overview of proposal
Competition Participation
100&Change: 2021
Current Work Location(s):
  • Province de la Ngounié, Gabon
  • Rivers State, Nigeria
  • Centre Region, Cameroon
  • Mambéré-Kadéï, Central African Republic
  • Province de l’Équateur, Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • East Region, Cameroon
  • Cuvette-Ouest, Republic of the Congo
  • Province de l’Ogooué-Ivindo, Gabon
Priority Population(s):
  • People of African descent
  • Economically disadvantaged people
  • People with diseases and illnesses
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
  • 3. Good health and well-being
  • 5. Gender equality
  • 10. Reduced inequalities

Executive Summary

Two hundred million people in 10 Central African countries are at risk of river blindness, a parasitic infection that causes eye and skin disease. Half of them have gone untreated by the “wonder drug” ivermectin—awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize for its potential to eliminate river blindness—because another parasite, Loa loa, can cause serious or fatal side effects following ivermectin treatment. A new mobile phone-based diagnostic technology, recently validated in Cameroon, presents an opportunity to remove this last major obstacle and permit safe treatment in areas with Loa loa. Our partnership will seize this opportunity, first, by expanding access to the technology; second, by resolving uncertainty about the extent of disease overlap through mapping; and third, by initiating data-driven disease elimination programs across all the populations currently excluded from treatment. This work will clear a path towards WHO's goal of eliminating river blindness.

Organization Details
Lead Organization

The Task Force for Global Health

website: http://www.taskforce.org
Organization Headquarters
Georgia, United States
Organization ID
Annual Operating Budget
$100.1 to 500 Million
Number of Full-time Employees
100 to 299

Charity, fund, non-governmental organization, religious institution, school, or other entity


To reduce the spread of COVID-19 after the global pandemic was declared, Neglected Tropical Diseases programs in much of the world halted community-based treatment activities. This was a justifiable public health measure, but it prevented tens of millions of people from receiving preventive chemotherapy for disabling NTDs. In addition, concern grew that long-term delays in treatment could threaten the significant progress made to reduce the global burden of NTDs over the past two decades. Project partners quickly pivoted to work with the World Health Organization and country partners to develop guidance for resuming NTD programs safely and to document that this guidance could be used effectively in the field. As a result, Neglected Tropical Diseases programs in many countries have been able to resume safe distribution of drugs to combat NTDs.