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Home The Lions Blog LCIF and The Carter Center: Partners in Vision

LCIF and The Carter Center: Partners in Vision

Bill Hatzos October 17, 2019

The Carter Center partnership is among the most important and long-lasting relationships currently enjoyed by the SightFirst program and Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF). “I’m proud to be a Lion and proud of the Carter Center’s SightFirst partnership with Lions Clubs. I’m grateful for their support in alleviating millions of men, women, and children of preventable blindness. It is one of the strongest partnerships the Center has ever had,” said 39th U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Carter Center founder.

Since 1994, LCIF has approved more than 60 river blindness and trachoma grants totaling over US$67 million. River blindness (also known as onchocerciasis), is a vector-borne parasitic disease that leads to blindness, and trachoma is the leading infectious cause of blindness worldwide. The Lions-Carter Center SightFirst Partnership programs are among the world’s most ambitious and successful sight initiatives and have led to measurable change for many throughout Africa and the Americas.

I’m proud to be a Lion and proud of the Carter Center’s SightFirst partnership with Lions Clubs. I’m grateful for their support in alleviating millions of men, women, and children of preventable blindness.

The Lions-Carter Center SightFirst partnership has made a significant impact since 1994. From 1994 to 2018, the partnership resulted in more than 236 million treatments to eliminate river blindness and over 177 million treatments to halt the blinding effects of trachoma. Over 799,000 sight-saving surgeries to reverse the advanced stage of trachoma have been performed, and more than 3.2 million latrines have been built to reduce transmission of infection.  

As a result of this partnership, the World Health Organization has verified four countries in the Americas as free of river blindness (Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, and Guatemala). River blindness transmission also has been interrupted and mass drug administration halted in significant areas of Sudan, Uganda, Nigeria, and Ethiopia. Further to this, the Amhara Region of Ethiopia, which suffers from the worst known trachoma prevalence in the world, has witnessed over 5 million people no longer requiring mass drug administration to prevent the disease, and the backlog of patients requiring surgery dwindle exponentially each year. Millions are free from these diseases thanks to this partnership and Lions support. These accomplishments would not have occurred without LCIF’s early investments, and the constant support and advocacy of Lions Clubs in each country.

Local Lions clubs help mobilize communities
Local Lions Clubs help mobilize communities to participate in drug distribution, eyelid surgery campaigns, and latrine constructions. Lions provide ongoing technical support, monitor progress, and meet with influential leaders in their countries to advocate for continued attention to river blindness and trachoma. Despite notable progress, more work remains to be done. The Carter Center has pledged its unwavering support to ensure countries reach their river blindness and trachoma elimination goals. Lions International and LCIF have been full partners with The Carter Center throughout the 25-year span of our work. We look forward to a strong continuation of our Lions-Carter Center SightFirst Partnership for 2020 and beyond.

LCIF and The Carter Center believe in the power of partnerships. No single organization can hope to eliminate neglected tropical diseases like river blindness and trachoma on its own. The effort requires cooperation among a diverse team of players, taking advantage of the strengths that each member of the team brings.  

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Bill Hatzos is the senior marketing specialist for Lions Clubs International Foundation.