Global initiative for river blindness vaccine strengthens in Africa
“TOVA Initiative brings together a diverse and skilled consortium of partners committed to developing an onchocerciasis vaccine,” Dr. Alex Debrah, a lecturer and dean of the Faculty of Allied Health Sciences of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana, said. “When achieved, the vaccine will prevent millions of children in Africa from becoming blind. We therefore pledge our unflinching support for this noble course.”
The initiative began earlier this year. It is focused on creating and testing potential onchocerciasis vaccines.
“We are delighted to be a part of this new global initiative for the development of a vaccine against onchocerciasis,” Dr. Benjamin Makepeace, lecturer on infection biology at the University of Liverpool, U.K., said. “We look forward to sharing advocacy, expertise and a common vision in the push to eliminate this neglected disease from the African continent.”
Onchocerciasis is also called river blindness. Approximately 17 million people are affected by the illness, and over 99 percent of these cases are transmitted across 31 countries located in sub-Saharan Africa. An estimated 169 million people are considered to be at risk for contracting the illness.
“The Sabin PDP is excited to join partners from Africa, Europe and the United States to advance the world’s first onchocerciasis vaccine,” Dr. Peter Hotez, president of Sabin, director of the Sabin PDP and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said. “With unique expertise in developing vaccines for NTDs, we look forward to working with our partners to identify innovative ways to reduce the burden of onchocerciasis in Africa.”