Guatemala is the fourth country in the world to eliminate transmission of 'river blindness'

December 08, 2016

Only one focus of onchocerciasis (river blindness) persists in the Americas, on the border between Brazil and Venezuela. The disease is still present in 31 African countries and Yemen. 

Guatemala City, 8 December 2016 (PAHO/WHO)—A hundred years after Guatemalan ophthalmologist Rodolfo Robles established the causal relationship between onchocerciasis and blindness, Guatemala has received official verification from the World Health Organization (WHO) that the country has eliminated this parasitic infection, a disease that put more than 230,000 people at risk of losing their vision in the 518 communities where transmission continued.

Carissa F. Etienne, Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) (WHO Regional Office for the Americas), presented the official document to the President of Guatemala, Jimmy Morales, during the 27th Inter-American Conference on Onchocerciasis (IACO), held every year by the countries and stakeholders working to free the hemisphere from this disease.

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