Elimination of onchocerciasis in Africa by 2025: an ambitious target requires ambitious interventions.

Colebunders R, Stolk WA, Siewe Fodjo JN, Mackenzie CD, Hopkins A

To achieve the elimination of onchocerciasis transmission in all African countries will entail enormous challenges, as has been highlighted by the active discussion around onchocerciasis intervention strategies and evaluation procedures in this journal.Serological thresholds for onchocerciasis elimination, adapted for the African setting, need to be established. The Onchocerciasis Technical Advisory Subgroup of the World Health Organization is currently developing improved guidelines to allow country elimination committees to make evidence-based decisions. Importantly, onchocerciasis-related morbidity should not be forgotten when debating elimination prospects. A morbidity management and disease prevention (MMDP) strategy similar to that for lymphatic filariasis will need to be developed. This will require collaboration between the onchocerciasis elimination program, the community and other partners including primary health and mental health programs.In order to reach the goal of onchocerciasis elimination in most African countries by 2025, we should prioritize community participation and advocate for tailored interventions which are scientifically proven to be effective, but currently considered to be too expensive.