In this exclusive interview, Matt Sky sits down with Jimmy Carter, the 39th President of the United States, to discuss river blindness, elimination of the disease, and The Carter Center's efforts to improve health conditions worldwide.
In particular, we discuss The Carter Center's shift from controlling river blindness to eliminating the disease in the countries where the Center operates. We also touch upon The Carter Center's efforts in fighting trachoma, cover major milestones to expect over the next decade, and discuss who inspires President Carter.
The Carter Center:
Until recently, the widely held belief in scientific communities has been that river blindness could not be eliminated with drugs and health education alone in Africa, in part, due to its high prevalence and the challenges to delivering health services.
The majority of river blindness occurs in Africa, where more than 120 million people are at risk and hundreds of thousands have been blinded by the condition. The disease can be prevented by community-delivered, mass treatments using the safe and effective oral drug Mectizan?, donated by Merck.
Moving from control to elimination is a turning point in the Center's river blindness strategy, requiring that intervention efforts intensify to wipe out the disease once and for all. Unlike in a control program, in an elimination program, success will mean that the countries' precious health resources can be freed and reallocated to fight other diseases. The Center officially added the word elimination to its program name to reflect the new focus of its intervention efforts.
The Carter Center will enhance elimination efforts by assisting the ministries of health to increase distribution of Mectizan, moving from once-a-year to twice-a-year treatments in some areas, and starting drug distribution in previously untreated areas.
To learn more about how you can help visit The Carter Center web site (www.cartercenter.org
). Also, stay updated with the latest by following The Carter Center on Facebook and Twitter.