During World Antimicrobial Awareness week (WAAW), between November 18th – 24th, the Organization for the Prevention of Blindness (OPC) celebrates the journey antibiotics take from giant pharmaceutical companies to underserved African communities.
The journey is like a well-oiled machine, managed by nonprofit organizations like OPC, to benefit populations in need and fight neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).
The process works. In 2002, 1.5 billion people needed pharmaceutical treatment to treat trachoma – the leading infectious cause of blindness. In 2023, it has decreased to 116 million.
Thanks to partners working generously together for years, trachoma has been officially eliminated as a public health crisis in six African countries. However, 23 still require intervention.
OPC is committed to being a core contributor in the global fight to end NTDs.
From Giant Pharmaceutical to Remote African Village
The fight against NTDs begins with the generosity of pharmaceutical companies such as Pfzier – who recently donated its billionth dose of Zithromax, the antibiotic used in OPC’s work in treating trachoma.
However, it isn’t as simple as handing medication out after it is donated. Pharmaceuticals have prerequisite qualifications to receive antibiotics. OPC helps countries meet these standards as well as manages the safe storage, remote transportation, and distribution of antibiotics.
This isn’t an easy feat. Not only are the areas we serve difficult to reach, we also overcome daily challenges such as insecurity, political upheaval, weather emergencies, and migrations of those in need. Still, we leave no one behind.
The Role of the Organization for the Prevention of Blindness
Our role in the journey of antibiotics is to be logistical and medical experts “on the ground.” For example, Zithromax comes in eye ointment, powder, and tablet forms and requires specific dosing based on age, or weight if age is unknown.
Antibiotics are a critical piece of the puzzle in the fight against NTDs – but not the only one. To ensure we’re on the path to eradicating trachoma and other NTDs, we work to provide access to clean water, sanitation, and educate the community on facial cleanliness.
We also perform surgery for patients suffering from an advanced form of trachoma, called trichiasis. Trichiasis is caused by repeat infections of trachoma over several years and can cause varying degrees of loss of sight. While sight cannot be regained through surgery, further deterioration of sight is prevented.
With success in contributing to Mali and Mauritania’s eradication of trachoma, we are now working with partners such as Sightsavers in Chad and The End Fund in Central Africa Republic with the same goal.
It is these rich partnerships with other nonprofits, governments, and health organizations, our unified vision and procedures, and our eye health expertise that puts the end of trachoma within our reach in the near future.
You can join the fight and mobilize our outreach by making a financial contribution. Your donation helps us reach more people with expert medical care and education.