Eastern Sudan’s Gallabat area declared free of river blindness

KHARTOUM, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) — Sudan’s Federal Ministry of Health on Sunday declared Gallabat area in eastern Sudan’s Qadarif State, on the border with Ethiopia, free of river blindness.

“Sudan has managed to stop spread of river blindness infection at Gallabat area on the border with Ethiopia as the second area after eliminating the disease at Abu Hamad area in northern Sudan,” Mohamed Abu Zaid Mustafa, Sudan’s Health Minister, said at a press conference in capital Khartoum.

The collective treatment began at Gallabat area in Qadarif State, some 566 km east of Khartoum, in 2007, said Mustafa, noting that “during 2011-2015, laboratory studies showed that river blindness spread at the area has stopped.”

He explained that the cooperation between Sudan and Ethiopia has contributed to achieving positive results, saying that “150,000 people in Gallabat no longer need treatment.”

Chief Executive Officer of the Atlanta-based Carter Center, Mary Ann Peters, reiterated that the center would continue combating river blindness in Sudan.

She commended Sudan’s efforts in combating the disease, urging the concerned health parties to support the efforts of eliminating river blindness, particularly in neighboring countries.

River blindness is a disease caused by infection with the parasitic worm Onchocerca volvulus, with symptoms like severe itching, bumps under the skin, and blindness.

In Sudan, river blindness spreads in four areas including Al-Radoum in South Darfur State, Yabous in Blue Nile State, Abu Hamad in Northern State and Gallabat in Qadarif State. Both Abu Hamad and Gallabat have been declared free of the disease.