The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust has awarded Sightsavers a grant of US$2.19 million to help eliminate trachoma in Zambia.
Trachoma is a neglected tropical disease (NTD) that can cause permanent blindness if left untreated. With the support of Sightsavers and partners, the Zambian government is leading the fight to eliminate the disease by focusing efforts on 33 districts, which are home to more than 3.6 million people.
The funding boost was announced at the Reaching the Last Mile Forum in Dubai, where a total of US$777 million was pledged to help fight the 21 conditions classed as NTDs.
Walter Panzirer, a trustee of the Helmsley Charitable Trust, said: “Sightsavers is in a position to help make history by supporting Zambia to eliminate trachoma. It already has a strong track record in this area, having worked with governments to successfully eliminate trachoma in Ghana, Gambia, Malawi, Benin and Mali. We hope that Helmsley’s funding can fuel momentum towards Zambia eliminating this horrific disease.”
Sightsavers’ CEO Caroline Harper said: “People describe the pain of trachoma as like having sand or thorns in their eyes. It can stop them from earning a living, farming, cooking, caring for their family or going to school. We’re excited that the Helmsley Charitable Trust’s generous donation can help us to transform so many lives.”
At the Reaching the Last Mile Forum, Sightsavers also pledged a further US$60 million towards eliminating trachoma, river blindness, lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis and intestinal worms in countries across Africa.