Communities of practice
Merger of two NGOs will enable expansion of action against infectious diseases of poverty
19 Mar 2009
Source: International Trachoma Initiative (Press release)
Two important non-government organizations that seek to eliminate neglected infectious diseases afflicting the world’s poorest people are to merge. The International Trachoma Initiative and the Task Force for Child Survival say that, by joining forces, they will be able to: “leverage additional resources and significantly scale up efforts to eliminate blinding trachoma”. There will also be benefits for the Task Force’s programmes on other neglected diseases, including onchocerciasis, lymphatic filariasis, and intestinal worms.
Trachoma is the world’s leading cause of preventable blindness. It affects 41 million people, mostly women and children, in 56 countries. Trachoma can be prevented and cured with inexpensive treatment, provided this is given in time. However, an estimated 6.8 million people have already lost some or all of their sight to this infectious disease, and an additional 8.2 million people with trichiasis (in-turning of the eyelashes) are at immediate risk of irreversible blindness. The disease is the specific focus of the International Trachoma Initiative (ITI) which currently works in 18 countries in Africa and Asia. ITI is a major proponent and facilitator of the SAFE strategy to prevent and eliminate trachoma through surgery, antibiotics, facial cleanliness and environmental improvement.
The Task Force for Child Survival and Development is a non-profit, public health organization recognized for its expertise and experience in cultivating partnerships with organizations, experts, and communities. Last year it coordinated the distribution of 150 million doses of medicine to treat diseases such as river blindness (onchocerciasis), elephantiasis (lymphatic filariasis), and intestinal worms in children.
The Task Force currently houses programmes that address three neglected infections, the prevention and treatment of which could be linked to control of trachoma:
“All of us at ITI are excited by the enormous potential that this merger brings to eliminating blinding trachoma,” said Ibrahim Jabr, President of ITI. “We realized in 2006 that to increase the impact of global trachoma control efforts, ITI would need a complementary partner to help in a scaled up effort to meet the World Health Organization goal of elimination by 2020. After a year-long search, we are confident that the Task Force is that partner. ’’
Mark Rosenberg, Executive Director of The Task Force said, “The mission and goals of ITI are a strong complement to the Task Force mission”.
The two organizations say they will work to:
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