Research for control: the onchocerciasis experience
Onchocerciasis control has been very successful in Africa and research has played a critical role. An overview of the main epidemiological and implementation research activities undertaken over the last 20 years in collaboration with the African onchocerciasis control programmes and of the impact this research had on control is given. The research included the development of epidemiological modelling and its application in programme evaluation and operational planning, research on disease patterns and disease burden in different bioclimatic zones to justify and guide control operations, community trials of ivermectin to determine its safety for large-scale use and its impact on transmission, rapid assessment methods to identify target communities for treatment and community-directed treatment for sustained drug delivery. Lessons learned during this unique collaboration between research and control are discussed.