Fighting Disease: Mali
Since 1999, The Carter Center has supported the Mali Ministry of Health's National Prevention of Blindness Program to control trachoma, focusing on facial cleanliness and environmental sanitation interventions in the Segou and Mopti regions. In late 2008, the Mali National Prevention of Blindness Program engaged its partners to create a plan to eliminate trachoma nationwide by 2015. In response, The Carter Center expanded its assistance to implement SAFE strategy interventions in Segou, Mopti, and Sikasso regions with generous support from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. SAFE is a multi-pronged approach to trachoma prevention that includes: Surgery, Antibiotics, Face washing and hygiene education, and Environmental sanitation.
The national program also supports outreach campaigns to increase the accessibility of trichiasis surgery among the target population. In 2012, The Carter Center facilitated nearly 5,000 surgeries, more than half of the total national output. The Carter Center also has supported the distribution of antibiotics — tetracycline eye ointment and Zithromax® (azithromycin, donated by Pfizer Inc.) — for the elimination of blinding trachoma. With a strong focus on health and hygiene education, The Carter Center has supported the training of community health agents, local leaders, community radio station DJs, and women's groups to encourage radio listening activities and soap-making for hand and face washing as well as a small-scale income-generating activity.
In partnership with Helen Keller International, The Carter Center supports 100 radio stations, reaching an estimated audience of more than 11 million people throughout Mali, to broadcast trachoma messages promoting the SAFE strategy and community support for surgical and mass drug distribution campaigns.
In 2012, with Carter Center support, health education on trachoma prevention reached more than 2,600 villages, and more than 6,000 household latrines were constructed.
To assist national planning and target setting, The Carter Center also supports the Malian Trachoma
Control Program with prevalence survey training and implementation. Data from surveys conducted between 2009 and 2011 showed that trachoma infection prevalence among children ages 1-9 years had reached below 5 percent in 32 districts.
As a result of these successes, the national program is investigating options for post-endemic surveillance.
The areas assisted by The Carter Center were briefly affected by turmoil in 2012-2013, but the program returned to its normal operations quickly.