Pfizer Sets Sights On Elimination Of Blinding Disease Trachoma By 2030
Written by on June 23, 2022
Pfizer on Thursday said it would extend until 2030 a drug donation programme aimed at eliminating trachoma, an eye disease responsible for blinding or visually impairing nearly two million people worldwide.
The US pharmaceutical company co-founded the International Trachoma Initiative (ITI) in 1998, and has already donated nearly a billion doses of the antibiotic Azithromycin, contributing to a 90 percent reduction in the number of people impacted.
The announcement was made in Kigali, Rwanda at the Summit on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases.
Trachoma is caused by infection with the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis, and is spread through personal contact (such as through hands, clothes or bedding), and by flies that have been in contact with discharge from the eyes or nose of an infected person, according to the World Health Organization.
Africa is the most affected continent, and women are blinded up to four times more often than men, likely as a result of greater contact with infants. Repeated infections draw the eyelashes inward where they rub against the eye, causing pain and permanent damage to the cornea, says the WHO.
Some 136 million people live in trachoma-endemic areas and are at risk.
The ITI had initially hoped to eliminate the disease by 2020, but is now setting its sights on 2030.
The challenge today is to reach isolated populations, including nomadic people, as well as combining the drug with the promotion of hygiene measures such as frequent washing of the face in areas where water may be scarce.
Today, the disease persists in 44 countries.