As much as needed, as long as needed
Staying the course is what it has taken to see River Blindness, a remote neglected tropical disease carried by the bites of black flies, slowly becoming a disease of the past.
In 1987, Merck committed to donate Mectizan – as much as needed, for as long as needed – with the goal to help eliminate river blindness. To celebrate the Mectizan Donation Program‘s 35th anniversary we went through our archives of footage, some filmed by us, some by scientists many years ago, and worked with a South African graphics artist to tell the story of 35 years of progress towards eliminating one of the most robust diseases known to mankind.
With a bespoke composed soundtrack and in-house voice-over, we managed condense 35 years into a powerful 3 and a half minutes!
The film was shown at the annual Mectizan Expert Committee meeting in Malawi in 2022, and since was sent out by MSD CEO Rob Davis to all their staff.
Stamp Out Oncho: A Distributor’s Story
Stamp Out Oncho is a campaign idea that we came up with on behalf of the Mectizan Donation Programme, to galvanise ministers of health around Africa to take an interest in eliminating the crippling and unnecessary disease, onchocerciasis or River Blindness.
The success of the campaign, to get everyone to take Mectizan to protect them from River Blindness, has been enabled by village health workers like Edoa Pierre, one of many community drug distributors who travel miles and miles to deliver Mectizan in communities around Cameroon.
Stamp Out Oncho: One Persistent Woman
Mme Chebin is on the frontline of community drug distribution to eradicate Onchocerciasis. She lets nothing get in the way of her making sure that each and every person takes their Mectizan treatment in her community in Cameroon.
This interview and many others from this trip to Cameroon was the result of using a local core team working with local partners and a shooting director from the UK, Lewis Davies filming to a script and schedule that allowed for space to spend time with people like Mme Chebin.
Stamp Out Onchocerciasis!
Getting people to stand up and take action is at the core of the Mectizan Donation Program‘s remit – especially when the intended audience are Ministers of Health in African countries. This is the first of a series of films intended to get key influencers to commit to putting their name to a 30 year-long elimination programme – ridding Africa of River Blindness or onchocerciasis. If we work together we can stamp out oncho!
We used a local fixer to go in search of stories that were set up in advance of our shooting producer director’s arrival. We then worked with a wonderful local photographer and camera assistant to create a more integrated team and integrate more in to remote and challenging settings.
It started off a relationship with Cameroon and Nigeria that continues to this day, adding to the list of the many African countries that we have ties with.