London, Mar 14, GNA – The Conrad Hilton Foundation in the US has provided $11.725 million to help eliminate trachoma in Mali and Niger.
This is in addition to the Carter Center, Hellen Keller International and Sightsavers, which are together matching the grant to provide a total of $23.45 million for the campaign.
“The Hilton Foundation has supported efforts toward the global elimination of trachoma for more than 20 years and we are thrilled to be reaching the elimination of this disease as a public health problem in countries like Mali and Niger by 2020,” said Peter Laugharn, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Hilton Foundation.
“I have seen first-hand the devastating effects that neglected tropical diseases have, and no one should have to suffer from a disease that is preventable.
“I believe that through collective compassion, collaboration and smart solutions, we can achieve this goal by 2020.”
The Helen Keller International and The Carter Center already work in both Mali and Niger, while Sightsavers works solely in Mali.
Former US President Jimmy Carter, founder of The Carter Center, praised the teamwork that had gone into the international effort.
“Mali and Niger’s strong commitment and hard work have brought them within reach of eliminating blinding trachoma,” Mr Carter said.
“Their progress gives other countries encouragement and incentive to pursue a similar goal.”
Trachoma is the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness and one of a group of what are known as Neglected Tropical Diseases, (NTDs).
It affects millions of people in communities that lack access to clean water and sanitation.
Trachoma is spread from person to person through direct contact and by flies that carry the infection from one person's eyes to another's.
Trachoma can be found in over 50 countries, mostly in Africa and the Middle East, and a few countries in the Americas and Asia.
Globally, 200 million people are at risk from trachoma, and over 3.2 million are at immediate risk from blindness.
Although trachoma is easily preventable, figures show that more than two million of the world’s poorest people are blind today because they did not have access to eyelid surgery or prevention strategies.
The disease is said to be responsible for an estimated annual productivity loss of up to $8 billion.