Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreing Affairs, and Chairman of Kuwait Fund for Economic Development (KFAED) Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah launched here on Sunday the 17th joint action forum of the African program for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC). The minister said in speech he gave at the opening ceremony, \"It gives me a great pleasure to welcome you to the State of Kuwait and to this important meeting on the elimination of River Blindness.\" \"This significant meeting coincides with the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) in 1961, \" he added. \"KFAED has joined the Onchocerciasis Control Program (OCP) on behalf of the State of Kuwait since its inception in 1974\". \"Being the second largest development institution after the World Bank, KFAED is a key pillar in Kuwait foreign aid policy,\" he said. \"Kuwait has far exceeded the 0.7% of GNP (gross national product) of developed countries set by the United Nations for development assistance,\" he mentioned. \"Our formula is simple, we invest in the well-being of people, Over the course of five decades, the Fund has provided loans and assistance worth USD 15 billion to over 100 nations,\" he said. \"The Fund has extended development assistance for the implementation of over 800 projects in recipient countries in various sectors, primarily economic and social,\" he affirmed. \"Recognizing the important role of human resources development in eradicating poverty and achieving economic growth through health and social services, the fund expanded its activities in the health sector in recent years and provided finance for the construction of various clinics and hospitals, including supplying them with modern medical equipment for screening and treating diseases in a number of countries especially low-income countries,\" the Deputy Premier added. \"Controlling diseases such as river blindness and other health problems is crucial to fight against poverty,\" he said. \"Onchocerciasis does not only disempower humans by loss of sight, but also aggravates their misery and deepens their poverty by forcing them to abandon their livelihood resources in infested fertile lands,\" he mentioned. The 17th joint action forum of the African program for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC) continues till December 14, with the participation of 120 to 150 representatives of around 20 financing institutions, and 30 African countries, represented by their health ministers. More than 15 non-governmental development organizations, and representative of the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Bank, United Nations Development Programme, and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are also taking part in the event. This meeting is held annually, alternately between concerned African countries, and financing bodies of the program, in coordination with the international Health Organizations. Various activities are being discussed in such meetings, besides approval of the budgets and audit of expenditures with a presentation about most important achievements.