Onchocerciasis in Nigeria 1: History of control efforts



  • B. E. B. Nwoke Department of Animal & Environmental Biology, Imo State University, Owerri, Nigeria
  • N. M. Akpan National Neglected Tropical Disease Control Division, Department of Public Health, Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja, Nigeria
  • V. Cama Centre for Disease Control (CDC), Atlanta Georgia, USA, Member NOEC
  • U. F. Ekpo Department of Pure and Applied Zoology, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria
  • A. E. Idyorough Federal University, Lafia, Nasarawa State, Nigeria
  • M. A. Mafe Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Lagos, Nigeria
  • H. B. Mafuyai Department of Zoology, University of Jos, Nigeria
  • E. Makata National Neglected Tropical Disease Control Division, Department of Public Health, Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja, Nigeria
  • E. Miri The Carter Center (TCC), Jos, Nigeria
  • K. N. Opara Department of Animal & Environmental Biology, University of Uyo, Nigeria
  • F. Richards The Carter Center (TCC), Atlanta, Georgia, USA


Control Efforts, Historical Background, Onchocerciasis, Nigeria


Nigeria is the most endemic country for onchocerciasis in the world and accounts for about 40% of the global cases. With about 50 million persons in over 40,000 communities at risk, it has been recognized as a communicable disease that is not only a social problem but also a major threat to productivity and the economy of the country. It is especially prevalent among the poor rural farmers, ‘‘people at the end of the road’’ living around the vector breeding sites who produce the bulk of our food and industrial raw materials. This review brings to focus the historical background of black fly and onchocerciasis control in Nigeria beginning from 1953 when the Oji power station-vector control operation was implemented and subsequently extended to River Niger at Lokoja, Kaduna River and the rivers in the Abuja emirate area. Other areas, which followed were Hawal River Valley and the Kainji Dam site in the 1950s and 1960s. The establishment of the National Onchocerciasis Control Programme (NOCP) in 1982, the introduction of mass ivermectin distribution in 1988 and the involvement of Non-Governmental Development Organizations (NGDOs) and African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC) were later progressions. This historical era of onchocerciasis control in Nigeria (from the 1950s and 2009) ended when there was evidence that long-term mass ivermectin distribution in endemic communities showed promise in the interruption of disease transmission and elimination. The strategies used and lessons learned during this era are highlighted.


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How to Cite

Nwoke, B. E. B., Akpan, N. M., Cama, V., Ekpo, U. F., Idyorough, A. E., Mafe, M. A., … Richards, F. (2023). Onchocerciasis in Nigeria 1: History of control efforts: https://doi.org/10.60787/qkam-wb02. Nigerian Journal of Parasitology, (1). Retrieved from https://njpar.com.ng/index.php/home/article/view/356

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