Lagos - A partnership between former United States President, Jimmy Carter, and businessman Sir Emeka Offor, is poised to eliminate river blindness (onchocerciasis) in a number of local states.
The partnership is made possible by grant support of US$10 million from the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation (SEOF).
It will help reach the goal of eliminating river blindness from the world's most endemic country by 2020.
"I am deeply honored to work closely with The Carter Center, through the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation to help eliminate river blindness in Nigeria," said Sir Emeka, founder and chairman of the SEOF, a charitable organization focused on health, education, and empowerment in Sub-Saharan Africa," said Offor.
"Nigeria has more cases of river blindness than any other country in the world. Yet, we know that with adequate resources, hard work, and perseverance, we can defeat this terrible neglected disease that can steal a person's ability to see the beauty of the world in which we live and to enjoy a full and active life."
The $10 million multi-year commitment by Sir Emeka is the largest grant from an individual African donor in Carter Center history, and the new resources will fund two-thirds of the Carter Center's expanded interventions against river blindness in Nigeria to help meet the five-year target to eliminate river blindness nationwide.
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Since 2013, with an initial gift of $250,000, the SEOF has been a valued partner to the Center's River Blindness Elimination Program, helping to change the face of philanthropy and inspire more African engagement and
Nearly half of the world's river blindness cases are in Nigeria.
It is estimated that up to 31 million Nigerians need treatment to prevent unnecessary suffering caused by the ancient disease.
For nearly two decades, The Carter Center has assisted the Nigerian Ministry of Health in nine states to fight river blindness in this highly endemic country through community-based health education and mass drug administration of Mectizan®, a microfilarial drug donated by the U.S. pharmaceutical company Merck.
Until recently, scientific communities widely believed 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 in the very remote areas afflicted by the condition.
- CAJ News