Purging Colombia of onchocerciasis was more of a siege than a battle. The hotspot for the disease was in the isolated riverside community of Naicioná, in the department of Cauca, in western Colombia.
There, health workers administered the anti-parasitic drug Mectizan — donated by pharmaceutical giant Merck — every six months for 12 consecutive years. In 2007, it was determined that onchocerciasis had quit spreading through the community of 1,366. The drug regime was stopped and the community was closely monitored for an additional three years. Last year, an international mission visited the site to verify that river blindness was no longer present, and on Monday the World Health Organization made the official announcement along with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.
This is a side effect of banishing the FARC and creating a stable society. Without that, the drug regime would not have been successfully carried out.