The Carter Center and Noor Dubai Foundation have announced a new four-year partnership to accelerate efforts to eliminate blinding trachoma in Ethiopia by 2020. Ethiopia has the highest known burden of trachoma in the world, with an estimated minimum of 67 million Ethiopians at risk of disease. This partnership focuses on the Amhara National Regional State of Ethiopia, the hardest hit by this blinding disease and aims to greatly reduce the burden and the suffering this blinding disease causes in the worst known region of the world.

An outdoor examination of a woman’s right eye, looking for symptoms of trachoma/CDC
An outdoor examination of a woman’s right eye, looking for symptoms of trachoma/CDC

“The important partnership between The Carter Center and Noor Dubai Foundation will help ensure that people in Ethiopia will not endure needless suffering and pain from blinding trachoma,” said Ambassador Mary Ann Peters (ret.), Carter Center CEO. “We are grateful for their support and committed to work together toward the goal of elimination by 2020.”

Trachoma, the world’s leading cause of preventable blindness, is a bacterial eye infection found in impoverished, isolated communities lacking basic hygiene and access to water and adequate sanitation. Repeated infections over time lead to scarring causing an inward turning of the upper eyelid — a very painful condition called trachomatous trichiasis — which causes the eyelashes to scrape the eye causing blindness when left untreated.

International efforts to eliminate trachoma are based on the World Health Organization -recommended SAFE strategy — a combination of interventions that includes Surgery, Antibiotics, Facial cleanliness, and Environmental improvement. To accelerate progress and strive to meet the elimination target of 2020 set by the Federal Ministry of Health for the Amhara region, The Carter Center-Noor Dubai collaboration, in strong partnership with the Amhara Regional Health Bureau, will support all components of the SAFE strategy for the next four years.

“We are proud to continue our work with The Carter Center to provide treatments that will prevent blinding trachoma in Ethiopia,” said His Excellency Humaid Al Qatami, Chairman of Chairman of Noor Dubai Foundation. “Since Noor Dubai’s inception in 2008, the Foundation has worked with various international charities to alleviate the suffering of the blind globally and to serve those in most need of our services. This project is of significant importance and will greatly improve both the social and economic conditions of families who will receive treatment for trachoma.”

Ethiopia, Africa

Trachoma can be found in over 50 countries, most in Africa and the Middle East, and a few countries in the Americas and Asia. Globally, 232 million people are at risk for trachoma, and over 4 million are at immediate risk for blindness from trichiasis. The Carter Center works with partners and ministries of health to control and prevent trachoma in the following six countries: Ethiopia, Mali, Niger, Sudan, South Sudan, and Uganda.

The Carter Center works with many partners including the World Health Organization, which leads an alliance of interested parties to work for the global elimination of trachoma, the Alliance for Global Elimination of Trachoma by the year 2020 (GET 2020), the International Coalition for Trachoma Control, and the International Trachoma Initiative charged with management of Pfizer donated Zithromax®.