- Associated Press - Friday, September 9, 2011

LISBON, PORTUGAL (AP) - An African health program that fights the debilitating disease called river blindness has won a euro1 million ($1.4 million) prize from a Portuguese foundation.

The African Program for Onchocerciasis Control on Friday won the Lisbon-based Champalimaud Foundation’s annual Vision Award.

The foundation said the public-private partnership has for the past 15 years coordinated more than 100 projects aimed at preventing onchocerciasis, or river blindness. The program last year treated more than 73 million people.

The disease, spread by flies, has infected more than 18 million people, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa.

The award, established in 2007, claims to be the largest monetary prize for work on eyesight and one of the world’s largest scientific prizes.

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