Ended December 2015
The African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC) was a very successful African based partnership organization that includes 31 NTD endemic countries and communities, development partners, NGDOs, foundations and private sector for the last fifteen years. It supported the distribution of medicines in endemic countries by strengthening the health system through establishing a community-led health program that empowers communities to take charge of their health related issues. APOC is an enviable model for Public-Private Partnership in the fight against NTDs in Africa. Last year alone APOC led the treatment more than 100 million for river blindness and contributed to efforts to eliminate other NTDs such as elephantiasis and trachoma which are two of the other neglected tropical diseases betted for eradication by 2030.
Some years are bigger than others, and 2015 was one of those years. It was a year that hihlighted APOC as a successful program with all its achievement and defined the future of a new program, and the expected launch of its successor PENDA (Program for the Elimination of Neglected Diseases in Africa) with a wider mandate to tackle all the five Preventive chemotherapy diseases (Onchocercariasis, lymphatic filariasis, trachoma, schistosomiasis and soil transmitted helmenthiasis) three of which are targeted in the annual letter by Bill and Beleinda Gates (2015).
The Programme was set up in 1995 to expand and build on the successes of the Onchocerciasis Control Programme in West Africa (OCP). The goal of the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC) was to eliminate onchocerciasis as a disease of public health importance in Africa.
At the heart of APOC’s strategy to eliminate onchocerciasis was community-directed treatment with ivermectin (CDTI). This approach relied on active community participation to distribute ivermectin treatment. Communities planned their own distribution systems and make decisions about how and when the ivermectin is distributed. They decided which members of the community will be trained to deliver the treatment, and they also monitor the CDTI process.