The disease effects an estimated 27 million Nigerians  

TAG4.1cropped.jpgABUJA, March 26, 2014 - The Chrome Group, a leading West African oil and gas con-glomerate, today welcomed an esteemed team of epidemiologists, entomologists and public health advocates from The Carter Center (TCC) in Atlanta, Georgia U.S.A. The group came to discuss River Blindness -- also known as Onchocerciasis -- a disease that effects an estimated 27 million Nigerians in different parts of the 32 states. Sir Emeka Offor, the founder and the Executive Vice Chairman of Chrome Group, is one of the biggest supporters in the fight and elimination of Onchocerciasis in Nigeria.

See photos from the meeting here.

The Carter Center estimates that Nigeria accounts for as much as 40 per cent of the global disease burden of Onchocerciasis. In 2012, the Center provided health education and Mectizan treatments to more than 6 million people in more than 8,100 villages. This initiative has however received quite an appreciable number of supports in the last couple of years from organisations and NGOs based in Nigeria through partnership with the Center in the fight against Onchocerciasis.

“I want to continue my support to President Carter to see that River Blindness is eliminated from our region," said Sir Emeka Offor. "As a result of meeting with these experts, I now know it is not just River Blindness but also elephantiasis and schistosomiasis that we must confront.”

Sir Emeka further stated that he was actively developing an office facility at the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation (SEOF) headquarter in Oraifite, Anambra State that will be dedicated to The Carter Center. In addition, he noted that his foundation is in the process of acquiring four Hilux utility vehicles to help curb TCC logistic challenges in the South-eastern part of Nigeria.

Among the guests was TCC Country Representative/Nigeria Dr. Emmanuel S. Miri, OFR, Senior Associate Director of Development for TCC Health Programs Sarah Bartlett, Director Southeast Integrated Programs TCC Nigeria Dr. Emmanuel Emukah, Senior Program Associate for TCC Lindsay Rakers, and Assistant Director Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) TCC Atlanta Dr. Darin Evans. Representing Chrome Group included the Chief Energy Consultant Engr. Onochie Anyaoku, Director Project Engr. Tochukwu Odukwe, followed by the Group Administrative Manager Chief Inno Anoliefo while the General Coordinator Honourable Tony Obi ably represented the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation (SEOF).

While thanking Sir Emeka for his continued support of the program, TCC Country Representative/Nigeria Dr. Miri confirmed that a thorough mapping of the seven endemic states in Nigeria (Abia, Anambra, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Enugu, and Imo) had been completed and that the Carter Center is poised to scale up its treatment target to reach about 35 million people.

"We still have challenges in the area of funding even though other agencies like WHO and USAID have made donations," Dr. Miri said. "However the funds are not accessible due to recent restrictions on foundations to donate to Nigeria because of Nigeria’s new anti-gay law.”

Dr. Miri therefore asked for Sir Emeka Offor’s continued financial support.

Speaking earlier during the visit, Sarah Bartlett shared President Carter’s appreciation for Sir Emeka Offor’s partnership in his efforts to bring about a total elimination of River Blindness in Nigeria. She noted how Sir Emeka offor’s donations last year had been very useful to the program. See more about the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation's partnership with The Carter Center to combat River Blindness in Nigeria.

Ms. Bartlett stressed that Sir Emeka Offor’s continued support was necessary because depending on other governmental donor organs may not be reliable. She affirmed that there were currently a lot of restrictions on how much or how long USAID could support the program especially in Nigeria.

Dr. Evans joined in by saying that Onchocerciasis elimination efforts had been very successful in the Americas through the Onchocerciasis Elimination Program for the Americas (OEPA) and was equally successful in Uganda and Sudan.

"We would like to try to do this in Nigeria…perhaps we can get some support to implement the elimination studies we have done elsewhere,” said Dr. Evans.

About The Chrome Group

The Chrome Group, founded in 1994 by Sir Emeka Offor, is one of Nigeria’s leading indigenous multinational businesses with subsidiaries operating in oil and gas exploration and production, oil and gas servicing, engineering, insurance, logistics and power industries.