The fight against two infectious diseases common in Africa received a boost from a $300,000 grant from pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the two diseases, river blindness and lymphatic filariasis, are caused by parasites and both conditions are on the World Health Organization’s hit list for eradication, Merck said in a release.
The donated funds will go to 10 nongovernmental organizations through a program named after Mectizan, medication developed by Merck to combat river blindness.
Brenda Colatrella, the company’s executive director of corporate responsibility, said the funds would be a critical step toward ending the diseases.
“Since the Mectizan donation program began 30 years ago, Merck and its global partners have made great strides to control and eliminate river blindness and lymphatic filariasis,” Colatrella said in the release. “With both diseases now targeted for elimination, we hope this grant will enable our partner NGOs to achieve further progress toward that goal.”
The CDC website said river blindness is passed to humans through bites from blackflies, which live near waterways. Lymphatic filariasis is caused by mosquito-borne parasites.