August 30, 2013, 12:22 pm
By The Carter Center
“Dark Forest, Black Fly,” an independent documentary feature film from award-winning producer Gary Strieker and Cielo Productions, offers an in-depth look at Uganda’s pending triumph against river blindness, a disease that has blinded sufferers in Africa for thousands of years. The film documents the East African nation’s pioneering decision to pursue nationwide river blindness elimination in cooperation with their partners, including The Carter Center. Uganda’s inspiring public health success story has become an example for Africa and will be told on American Public Television stations nationwide beginning in September. A list of air times and locations can be found here (PDF) >
River blindness, also known as onchocerciasis, is a debilitating parasitic infection spread by the bites of small black flies that breed in rapidly flowing rivers. The disease can cause intense itching, eyesight damage, and often blindness. River blindness has an enormous economic impact, preventing people from working, harvesting crops, receiving an education, or taking care of children.
The Carter Center works with the national ministries of health in 10 countries in Africa and Latin America to eliminate river blindness through health education and distribution of the Merck-donated drug Mectizan®. To speed elimination efforts in Uganda, the national program has used additional interventions to control the black flies that transmit the disease. While river blindness was once considered too endemic in Africa to be eliminated, the experts in “Dark Forest, Black Fly” are changing this widely held view and showing that no one need suffer from this ancient infection.
To learn more about this exciting new film, visit the website of the film’s producers, Cielo Productions.