The Daily Independent published a story by Raheem Oluwafunminiyi on March 4, 2015, "Combating river blindness in Nigeria: The Carter Centre and Sir Emeka Offor Foundation Partnership," which reported on the significant progress being made to eliminate River Blindness. Sir Emeka Offor is the Executive Chairman of The Chrome Group and is proud to combine his philanthropic efforts with the Carter Center's initiatives for the benefit of all Nigerians.

Below is the story:


Combating river blindness in Nigeria: The Carter Centre and Sir Emeka Offor Foundation Partnership

On March 3rd 2014, The Jimmy Carter Center in Atlanta Georgia was noticeably alive as the 18th River Blindness [Elimination] Program Review kicked off in full swing. The conference, which holds annually, was graced by world leading epidemiologists and entomologists, public health advocates and country Ministry of Health coordinators, particularly from countries with endemic Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) and those with partner relationship with The Carter Foundation. In attendance also were prominent donors or representatives associated with the Carter Center in their homogenous and broad pursuit of peace, disease eradication and human capacity training.

Dr. Frank Richards Jr. Director, Carter Center River Blindness (RB), Lymphatic Filariasis (LF), Schistosomiasis (SCH), ML Programs, who began by looking at River Blindness eradication efforts, challenges and recorded successes since the 2013 review session opened the conference. In his declaration, he reminded the panel of the purpose of the review, which according to him included an examination of The Carter Center assisted River Blindness (RB), Lymphatic Filariasis (LF), Schistosomiasis (SCH) programs together with represented partners from country Ministry of Health, assess targets reached during the previous year, review problems encountered in fulfilling set objectives and set new goals or objectives for the year 2014.

The World Health Organisation in 2011 issued a statement in support of Integrated Vector Management (IVM) citing improved cost effectiveness in vector control operations and strengthening the capacity of programs as well as it pertains to Lymphatic Filariasis (LF)/Malaria, Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) and River Blindness elimination in endemic regions of Africa and particularly, Nigeria. The Integrated Vector Management (IVM) had encouraged an estimated treatment target of about 20 million in 2013, a remarkable jump from the number of previous years.

River Blindness or Onchocerciasis is a disease that affects the eye and skin brought by a nematode called Onchocerca Volvulus. It is one of the Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) endemic in South Eastern Nigeria. It is parasitic in nature and caused by an infection resulting from several bites from a black fly often found in areas with fast flowing streams. According to the WHO, 30 countries in Africa are considered endemic with an estimated population of 85 million. Almost half of those numbers live in Nigeria.

Embracing the shift from control to elimination, The Carter Center has adopted a “scale up” modality in the treatment of River Blindness. To enable the Centre and its partners achieve this goal, twice a year and sometimes four-times-a-year treatment regimens have been encouraged, particularly in regions where transmission persists.

It is here that Sir Emeka Offor, the Executive Vice Chairman of a multi-billion dollar oil and gas conglomerate, has risen to augment the on-going global efforts towards the elimination and eradication of River Blindness from Nigeria. Through his corporate responsibility arm, The Sir Emeka Offor Foundation, he donated over US$250,000 personally to the Carter Center during the year 2013. During this year’s review at The Carter Center in Atlanta, Sir Emeka Offor through his representative Dr. Edwin Ndukwe renewed his commitment to the fight against River Blindness and further pledged provision of supportive logistics to advance efforts made by The Carter Center. Till date, Sir Emeka Offor remains the largest independent African donor in the world towards the elimination and eradication of River Blindness in Nigeria, a statement verified from the Center’s spokesperson.

With this monumental exploit through the River Blindness [Elimination] Program Review, it is hoped The Jimmy Carter Center in partnership with Sir Emeka Offor will break further barriers in the fight against not only River Blindness but also other health challenges, which threaten the longevity and healthy existence of mankind.