Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter And Pfizer Celebrate 15-Year Effort To
Help End Blinding Trachoma As A Public Health Concern
Campaign to Halt Disease by 2020 Will Benefit Hundreds of Millions
NEW YORK -- November 5, 2013
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter joined Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) today to
commemorate the 15^th Anniversary of the International Trachoma Initiative
(ITI), an independent, not-for-profit program dedicated to the elimination of
blinding trachoma as a public health concern. Trachoma is an infectious eye
disease that is a leading cause of blindness and suffering in the poorest
regions of the world. Pfizer has provided hundreds of millions of doses of the
antibiotic Zithromax® (azithromycin) to help the global campaign wipe out
blinding trachoma by the year 2020.
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Founder of The Carter Center, and Ian
Read, CEO, Pfizer Exhibit ...
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Founder of The Carter Center, and Ian
Read, CEO, Pfizer Exhibit Tour (Photo: Business Wire)
“The Pfizer donation of Zithromax was momentous in trachoma control, and The
Carter Center was pleased to go to scale in trachoma endemic countries to get
the medicine into the villages and demonstrate the world could end blinding
trachoma,” President Carter said during a celebration with partners,
nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and Pfizer employees at the company’s
headquarters in Manhattan.
“The progress and success of the trachoma campaign is something every Pfizer
colleague can be proud of. Through the 15-year partnership, millions of people
worldwide will be spared the injustice, indignity and pain of their eyelashes
scratching and scarring their eyes,” added President Carter, founder of The
Carter Center, a pioneer in disease eradication and elimination activities.
Pfizer, through the ITI, has donated more than 340 million doses of the
antibiotic to date to prevent and treat trachoma in support of the World
Health Organization (WHO)-led Global Alliance for the Elimination of Trachoma
by the year 2020.
“We are honored to have President Carter join Pfizer to commemorate the 15^th
anniversary of the ITI program and gratified about the progress that has been
made toward eliminating blinding trachoma as a public health concern,” said
Ian Read, Pfizer Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Pfizer joins President
Carter and others in envisioning a world where blinding trachoma has been
eliminated. I speak for the entire Pfizer community in reiterating our desire,
along with partners like The Carter Center and ITI, to helping end the
suffering by 2020.”
ITI has managed the distribution of the antibiotic to 28 countries in Africa
and Asia since 1998, said Dr. Mark Rosenberg, interim director of ITI.
“Trachoma brings extraordinary human suffering and economic devastation to
tens of millions of people, mostly women and children in poorer countries,”
Dr. Rosenberg said. “It can be prevented, treated and eliminated.”
In the early 1900s, trachoma could be found in New York City, where Pfizer is
located, and in President Carter’s hometown of Plains, Ga. The leading cause
of infectious blindness, trachoma was eliminated from the United States in the
1970s. Today, trachoma remains in the world’s most isolated and neglected
communities. Approximately 320 million people worldwide are at risk for
contracting trachoma, with about 7 million suffering from the advanced,
blinding stage of the disease.
After years of untreated trachoma infections, the eyelids turn inward, and the
lashes scrape the cornea with every excruciating blink, damaging vision. Women
and children suffer most from trachoma, which blinds one person every 15
On Nov. 10, the 100 millionth Carter Center-assisted dose of Zithromax is
expected to be distributed in Amhara Region, Ethiopia, during a celebration
with the Ethiopian government, Pfizer, ITI, the Lions Clubs International
Foundation and Lions of Ethiopia, and other partners. The Amhara Region is
thought to be the most trachoma-endemic area in the world, and together the
partners are actively working to demonstrate that blinding trachoma can be
eliminated from a highly endemic country.
Already, The Carter Center, together with the Ministry of Health and other
partners in Ethiopia, has helped demonstrate that community-directed
infrastructures for preventing trachoma can mobilize millions of people to
accept treatment and adopt behavior changes to improve their own lives, even
in remote areas where there is limited access to basic medical care, water and
The international trachoma campaign uses the SAFE strategy, approved by the
WHO, to prevent and treat trachoma. SAFE stands for: Surgery to prevent
blindness; Antibiotics to treat active infections; Facial cleanliness; and
Environmental improvements, such as latrines to reduce the breeding grounds of
flies that help spread the disease.
Using these interventions, Ghana, Morocco, Oman, Vietnam, Iran and The Gambia
have all achieved great success against this debilitating infection. Mali,
Niger, and Sudan also are on track to make significant inroads in their fight
against blinding trachoma by 2015.
*VIDEO & PHOTOS: High resolution photos and broadcast-quality video related
to the ITI are available here.
About the International Trachoma Initiative www.trachoma.org
The International Trachoma Initiative (ITI) was founded in 1998 in response to
the World Health Organization’s (WHO) call to eliminate blinding trachoma by
2020 (GET2020). ITI’s founding partners, Pfizer and the Edna McConnell Clark
Foundation, saw the need for an international nongovernmental organization
dedicated solely to the elimination of blinding trachoma. To achieve that
goal, ITI collaborates with governmental and nongovernmental agencies at the
local, national and international levels to implement the WHO-recommended SAFE
strategy for trachoma control (Surgery; Antibiotics—using donated Zithromax;
Facial cleanliness; and Environmental improvement). ITI is based at The Task
Force for Global Health in Decatur, Ga. ITI manages the donation of
antibiotics by Pfizer.
About The Carter Center www.CarterCenter.org
The Carter Center has been a leader in trachoma since 1998, assisting
ministries of health in Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Sudan, and South Sudan.
Through efforts to fight trachoma, Guinea worm disease, river blindness,
lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis, and malaria, Carter Center health
programs have pioneered the eradication, elimination, and control of so-called
“neglected tropical diseases” for more than a quarter-century. Emphasizing
building trust at the grassroots, The Carter Center has helped advance peace
and health in more than 70 countries since it was founded by former U.S.
President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn in 1982.
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