Donation of Zithromax Will Prevent Tens of Thousands in Ethiopia from Going Blind
New York, NY, November 22, 2005
– ORBIS International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention of blindness in the developing world, today announced that the International Trachoma Initiative (ITI), will provide more than $17 million worth of the Pfizer-donated antibiotic Zithromax to help ORBIS in its fight against one of the world’s leading causes of blindness - trachoma. ITI will also donate similar amounts of Zithromax to ORBIS for the next two years.
"This donation by Pfizer, through ITI, will be life changing to so many Ethiopians," said Oliver Foot, president and executive director of ORBIS. "Zithromax is giving sight to thousands who would go needlessly blind. And by distributing the drug, we are not only improving individual lives, but all of Ethiopia. Fewer blind people mean more people available to work and contribute to their communities and their country."
Trachoma is the oldest infection known to man and leads to blindness. Trachoma affects 84 million people worldwide; eight million of whom are blind. Preschool children and adult women are most at risk of contracting trachoma. However, a single dose of Zithromax can protect a person from trachoma for a full year. ORBIS will be distributing the donated Zithromax in Ethiopia, where more than 20% of all unnecessary blindness is due to trachoma.
"Going blind due to trachoma is terrible thing, especially since it can be so easily prevented," said Jacob Kumaresan, president of ITI. "By combining our efforts, we hope to make a difference in the struggle with this infection. We are very pleased to provide Zithromax to ORBIS to improve the lives of many Ethiopians."
Founded in 1998 by the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation and Pfizer Inc., the International Trachoma Initiative seeks to eliminate blinding trachoma by putting into action the SAFE strategy (Surgery to correct advanced stages of the disease, Antibiotic distribution of Pfizer-donated Zithromax to treat active infection, Face washing to reduce disease transmission, and Environmental change to increase access to clean water and improved sanitation.) Working in countries where the World Health Organization has documented widespread disease, ITI collaborates with national ministries of health and other partners to identify regions where trachoma control will be targeted, develop a plan for implementing the SAFE strategy, and mobilize people and resources.
ORBIS is an international nonprofit dedicated to eliminating preventable blindness in developing countries. Since its creation in 1982, ORBIS, its permanent country programs, the ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital and our highly skilled volunteer medical staff have trained over 93,000 local medical professionals in 83 countries who have gone on to share their new skills with others and give an estimated 22.5 million people back their sight and their future. ORBIS is a founding member of the global advocacy alliance Vision 2020, whose mission is to eliminate all avoidable blindness by the year 2020. www.orbis.org
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