International Trachoma Initiative

International Trachoma Initiative

"International Trachoma Initiative [ [ International Trachoma Initiative] ] " (ITI) [ ] - is a US-based non-profit organization committed to the elimination of blinding [ trachoma] , the most common cause of preventable blindness. Founded in 1998 by the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation [ [ EMCF Page] ] and Pfizer Inc, ITI has operated in [ 14 developing countries] in Africa and Southeast Asia. ITI builds on growing international momentum to support the World Health Organization’s goal of eliminating blinding trachoma as a public health concern by 2020. [ [ Vision 2020] ] Working in countries where the WHO has documented widespread disease, ITI catalyzes partnerships among international agencies and governmental and non-governmental organizations. ITI supports national governments in their efforts to implement sustainable trachoma control programs using the WHO-recommended [ SAFE strategy] , which includes:

* Surgery to correct advanced stages of the disease;
* Antibiotics to treat active infection, using Zithromax donated by Pfizer Inc;
* Facial cleanliness to reduce disease transmission;
* Environmental change to increase access to clean water and improved sanitation to eliminate disease altogether.

Since launching its first programs in Morocco and Tanzania in 1999, ITI has steadily expanded trachoma control efforts to an additional 12 countries in Africa and Asia. In 2008, ITI will take on two additional country programs. This rapid expansion has been made possible by Pfizer’s donation of the antibiotic Zithromax, the dedication of national governments, and the commitment of ITI’s partners to support the F and E components of SAFE implementation. To date over 53 million antibiotic treatments have been administered, over 276,000 individuals have received sight-saving surgery, and millions of people in endemic countries have benefited from health education and improved access to water and sanitation.

Trachoma is a highly infectious eye disease caused by the bacterium "Chlamydia Trachomatis", which can be spread through contact with an infected person. Untreated, repeated trachoma infections result in a painful form of permanent blindness when the eyelids turn inward, causing the eyelashes to scratch the cornea. Although children are the most susceptible to infection, the effects are often not felt until adulthood. Women, traditionally the caretakers of the home, are three times more likely than men to be blinded by the disease. Without intervention, trachoma keeps families shackled within a cycle of poverty, as the disease and its long-term effects are passed from one generation to the next.


External links

* [ International Trachoma Initiative]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.