Greetings first from Kinshasa and then from Kasongo! I have had a smooth and uneventful trip so far.
This trip which is being sponsored by the Merck Donation Program has two major objectives:
- Meet with various people and organizations to determine the reasons for very poor performance by the Lubutu riverblindness control project or CDTI Lubutu (Community-Directed Treatment with Ivermectin), compared to other similar projects in the Congo, since its inception in 2007. The CDTI Lubutu contains 4 health zones and is located in the northern most region of the Maniema province. UFAR's CDTI Kasongo with its 8 health zones is situated in the south of the province. The middle region where the town of Kindu is located is considered largely hypo-endemic or very low prevalence for onchocerciasis, not requiring the institution of a mass treatment program with Mectizan.
- Visit CDTI Kasongo to ensure proper and successful Mectizan distribution in 2 of the 3 remaining health zones that are getting the drug for the first time. These 2 zones have a high probability of encountering drug-related severe adverse reactions due to the known high co-endemicity of onchocerciasis and loasis.