The Trust and Lions Clubs International join forces to tackle blinding trachoma

The Trust is delighted to announce its new partnership with Lions Clubs International Foundation to fight blinding trachoma in two Commonwealth countries in Africa.

Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) is the charitable arm of Lions Clubs International, the largest service club organisation in the world with over 1.4 million members in more than 200 countries and geographic areas. LCIF has a long history of working in blindness prevention and shares the Trust’s vision of a world free from blinding trachoma.

Trachoma is the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness,  blinding one person every fifteen minutes. About 229 million people,  primarily in Africa, live in trachoma-endemic areas. The disease slowly and painfully robs people of their sight, as repeated infection turns eyelashes inwards, scraping the cornea and eventually causes irreversible blindness.

LCIF has provided US$2 million in grants to the Trust and is considering a request for a similar or greater level of funding in the future to support the delivery of sight-saving and pain-relieving surgery to people with advanced stages of the condition, known as trichiasis, in Uganda and Kenya. This procedure corrects their in-turned eyelashes, which prevents further damage to the eye and relieves the sufferer of constant pain.

Between 2014 and 2019, the Trust’s Trachoma Initiative plans to fully eliminate blinding trachoma in Kenya and Malawi and make significant advances towards elimination in Mozambique, Nigeria, Uganda and Tanzania. It will also tackle the disease in other Commonwealth countries in the Pacific and in Australia.

The Initiative is based on a large-scale programme of Surgery,  Antibiotic distribution, Facial cleanliness and Environmental improvement initiatives. This tried and tested strategy, known as SAFE, is endorsed by the World Health Organization and has already yielded strong results in other Commonwealth countries such as Ghana.

Dr Astrid Bonfield, Chief Executive of the Trust said,

I am delighted that Lions Clubs International Foundation has joined forces with The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust to eliminate the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness. LCIF has decades-worth of experience in blindness prevention and their community has made extraordinary progress in bringing sight to many millions of people around the world. The collaborative spirit of LCIF and the unfaltering dedication of its members is an inspiration to the Trust’s work across the Commonwealth. Thanks to the generosity of LCIF, this partnership will save the sight of some of the world’s poorest people, leaving a lasting legacy in honour of Her Majesty The Queen.

Joe Preston, LCIF Chairperson said,

LCIF is excited to partner with The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust to fight blinding trachoma. Trachoma is a top priority for LCIF, and this partnership will help us reach even more people in need around the world. Together, we can accomplish our common goal of eliminating trachoma by 2020.