Pfizer donates 500 millionth dose of trachoma treatment
16 November 2015
Today, Pfizer Inc., The International Trachoma Initiative (ITI), and the International Coalition for Trachoma Control (ICTC) have announced Pfizer’s 500 millionth donation of Zithromax® (azithromycin), an antibiotic used to treat blinding trachoma. The milestone marks a significant achievement in global efforts to help eliminate this infectious and completely preventable form of blindness.
About 232 million people live in trachoma endemic districts globally. The disease slowly and painfully robs people of their sight, as repeated infection turns eyelashes inwards, scraping the cornea and eventually causing irreversible blindness. Blinding trachoma has a devastating personal and economic impact on the people affected and their families. Women are almost twice as likely as men to develop blinding trachoma.
Antibiotic treatment is a crucial part of the WHO-endorsed SAFE Strategy for the elimination of blinding trachoma, which the Trust is delivering with its partners across six Commonwealth countries in Africa, and Australia and the Pacific. The S.A.F.E. Strategy involves Surgery to correct inturned eyelashes scraping on the cornea, Antibiotic distribution to treat the infection, Facial cleanliness and Environmental improvements, such as building latrines and improving access to water, to reduce the spread of infection.
Dr Astrid Bonfield, Chief Executive of the Trust said, “This is a remarkable milestone. The donation of Zithromax is proving to be an important catalyst for global progress towards the elimination of trachoma, an age-old, painful blinding disease. We are very grateful for Pfizer’s generous donation of Zithromax to the programmes of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust to combat trachoma in Commonwealth countries, which in our focus countries in Africa alone amounts to over 13 million doses. The end of this disease and its devastating consequences will mean so much to the families and communities affected.”
Partners celebrating in Ethiopia today are working as part of The World Health Organization (WHO)-led Alliance for the Global Elimination of Trachoma by 2020 (GET 2020). This Alliance is a unique collaboration of more than 100 governments, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and private sector partners working together to end trachoma.
Since the Alliance was formed in 1998, partners have treated more than one hundred million people in 33 countries.