River blindness (also known as onchocerciasis) is a disease that currently infects around 21 million people in sub-Saharan Africa and the Americas. River blindness is caused by an infection from a parasitic worm transmitted by blackflies, which breed in fast-flowing streams and rivers.

The worms produce larvae that move to the skin, eyes and other organs. This can lead to debilitating itching, disfiguring skin conditions and sight loss (including irreversible blindness). With these conditions, river blindness has an enormous impact on the lives of those infected by reducing their ability to work and study in school.

~21 million are infected with the river blindness 218 million people are at risk of contracting river blindness
99% of people infected live in sub-Saharan Africa
Source: WHO data 2019

Countries that have eliminated river blindness

Four countries have eliminated river blindness since 2012:

  • Colombia (2013)
  • Ecuador (2014)
  • Mexico (2015)
  • Guatemala (2016)

Countries implementing preventive chemotherapy for river blindness


People receiving preventive chemotherapy for river blindness

Since the London Declaration was signed in 2012 and partners committed to defeating neglected tropical diseases, the number of people receiving preventive chemotherapy for river blindness has increased considerably.

Data is provided by the World Health Organization

Coalition partners

Mectizan Donation Program