Over the last few weeks, we at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation have been encouraged by several major milestones, including the work of many of our partners, in the fight to eliminate trachoma.
Of these milestones, we were very pleased to see that Ghana has successfully eliminated trachoma as a public health problem, freeing millions from enduring avoidable blindness. As recently as 2000, the Telegraph reported that 2.8 million people were estimated to be at risk for this disease. Thanks to the work of our partners, including the Carter Center and World Vision, we are honored to have previously supported programs in Ghana and celebrate in this profound achievement for public health. Ghana is not the only country recognized in the last few weeks for its trachoma elimination: Nepal also eliminated trachoma recently, becoming the first country in Southeast Asia to eliminate trachoma. In the 1980s, trachoma was the second leading cause of preventable blindness in Nepal and yet, today, it is eliminated thanks to the work of our great partners, like Helen Keller International, in the field.
In addition, the International Trachoma Initiative (ITI)– a program of the 2016 Hilton Humanitarian Prize Laureate, The Task Force for Global Health– celebrated their 20th anniversary this past week. Their significant achievements these past few decades have been instrumental in creating progress towards trachoma elimination.
Finally, Pfizer, through its work with ITI, has announced that it will continue to provide trachoma endemic countries with donated antibiotics through 2025. These antibiotics are a critical component of the global strategy to eliminate trachoma and we applaud Pfizer for extending its program and committing to ending this disease.
With each passing milestone, we are reminded that the goal of global elimination is well within reach. We hope that our two-decades-long commitment to support trachoma elimination, through the work of our current implementing partners, including Sightsavers, the Carter Center, and Helen Keller International– will continue to show that this is a winnable fight.