The WHO Collaborating Center for Onchocerciasis Diagnostics was established in 2018. The Centre is the culmination of over 25 years of collaboration between the laboratory of Dr. Thomas Unnasch and various laboratories supported by international agencies and programs including the WHO, the Onchocerciasis Control Programme in West Africa, the Onchocerciasis Elimination Programme for the Americas, the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control, the Carter Center Onchocerciasis Elimination Program and the WHO Expanded Special Programme for the Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases. The overall goals of the WHO Collaborating Centre are as follows:
- To provide advice in obtaining essential assay specific reagents to endemic laboratories involved in onchocerciasis elimination.
- To provide quality control assurance activities to said laboratories
- To provide training as needed in the techniques needed to verify onchocerciasis elimination.
- To provide technical assistance to said laboratories as needed
- The Centre will provide critical reagents (Ov16 antigen, O-150 PCR freeze dried reaction mixes) at cost to laboratories involved in onchocerciasis elimination
We have provided Ov16 antigen and freeze dried reaction mixtures to national and international laboratories currently involved in onchocerciasis surveillance in Sudan, Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Togo, Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana and Brazil. We have also supplied these reagents to the ESPEN laboratory located in Ouagadougou. To date, these reagents have been provided at no cost to the laboratories.