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Onchocerciasis in Yemen: moving forward towards an elimination program.


The onchocerciasis focus in Yemen has been known for many years as an endemic area with unique characteristics, notably the atypical and most severe form of onchodermatitis, known as sowda or reactive onchodermatitis (ROD). The national effort to control the disease began in 1992 as an individual case treatment program by administering ivermectin to those presenting with ROD. The challenging geography of the endemic area and the current political and military unrest both underscore a need for special approaches when attempting to eliminate onchocerciasis from this country. An assessment of the national situation regarding this disease was carried out in 2011-2013 aimed at defining the best approach for moving from individual clinical case treatment to elimination of transmission. The history of the control efforts and the current status of the disease are reviewed and the essential changes needed to a mass drug administration (MDA) approach are identified as the national program addresses elimination. Yemen, despite the current troubles, has shown that it can successfully implement MDA programs despite many difficulties and therefore should be supported in its efforts towards countrywide elimination of this infection; however, success will need renewed national and international efforts.

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Journal Article
Al-Kubati A
Mackenzie CD
Boakye D
Al-Qubati Y
Al-Samie A
Awad IE
Thylefors B
Hopkins A