Berlin. 18.10.2017 - Matshidiso Rebecca Moeti, Regional Director for Africa at the World Health Organization (WHO) gave an overview on the fight against Neglected Tropical Diseases and the role of the Mectizan Donation Program. Adrian Hopkins, Consultant to the CBM and former CEO of the Mectizan Donation Program (MDP) outlined the start of the Mectizan programme. In 1987, Merck announced the donation of Mectizan, a breakthrough medicine for the treatment of onchocerciasis, for as long as needed. More commonly known as "river blindness," onchocerciasis is found in six countries in Latin America, in Africa, and in Yemen. It is transmitted through the bites of black flies and can cause intense itching, disfiguring dermatitis, eye lesions and, over time, blindness. Ken Gustavsen, Executive Director for Corporate Responsibility at MSD explained the donation programme was the longest lasting medication initiative worldwide, as well as one of the most successful public-private health operations. Dr Yao Sodahlon, CEO of the Mectizan Donation Program (MDP) pointed out that the success achieved so far could only be upheld if new treatment strategies, alternative solutions and synergies with politics, governments, economies and society were continuously sought after.