The funds from the grant will be used to help Sightsavers eliminate the blinding disease, trachoma, in Mali. The work will specifically focus on addressing the backlog of trichiasis trachomatous (TT) cases – where eyelashes have turned in and rub on the eyeball, requiring urgent surgery to prevent blindness.
The grant will be used to support Sightsavers’ work in 20 districts over five regions in Mali, in partnership with the National Eye Care Programme (part of the Ministry of Health), as well as coordinating with the Carter Centre (TCC) and Helen Keller International (HKI).
The programme will support a number of activities including outreach activities using motorcycles and other vehicles to provide surgical services to remote communities, training of TT surgeons, surveys to determine the prevalence of TT as well as an innovative ‘mhealth pilot’ where cell phones will be used to transmit data from the field via SMS to a central database.
As part of the partnership, Sightsavers is under an obligation to raise additional funds to complement the grant and will need to match the Foundation grant dollar for dollar.
The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation was created in 1944 by international business pioneer Conrad N. Hilton, who founded Hilton Hotels and left his fortune to help the world’s disadvantaged and vulnerable people. Traditionally, the Foundation has supported Helen Keller International (HKI) and the Carter Centre (TCC) in Mali and has supported with $40m of funding for trachoma.
Simon Bush, Director of Advocacy and NTDs, Sightsavers says: “Thanks to Sightsavers’ new partnership with the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation we are able to tackle the huge backlog of TT cases head on, and stop the excruciating pain and blindness caused by the disease for thousands of people. Not only that, this investment provides Sightsavers with the funds to really push forward our efforts to eliminate trachoma in Mali by 2015.”
“We’re very pleased to partner with Sightsavers for the first time,” said Dr. Shaheen Kassim-Lakha, Director, International Programs at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. “Sightsavers is a welcome addition to our partnership in West Africa that is working hard to meet the Vision 2020 target of eliminating trachoma in Mali.”