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Carter Center Peace and Health Partners: Abbott

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Featured April 2014

The Carter Center is proud to announce a new donation for our Trachoma Control Program in Ethiopia. The global health care company Abbott has given a donation of sophisticated molecular diagnostic lab equipment and supplies. This in-kind donation is important especially as the program's success depends on having a fully equipped lab near the Carter Center's regional office in the Amhara region of Ethiopia.
The Carter Center's Trachoma Program in Ethiopia strives to eliminate blinding trachoma from Amhara, the most endemic region for this disease in the world. After more than 10 years of continuous disease control in this region, clinical signs of the disease are still prevalent; however, research has shown that infection is decreasing. Because the clinical signs appear to linger long after infection has been cleared, additional information, which can be obtained through DNA analysis using Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), needs to be gathered to determine when treatments may be stopped.

The donation from Abbott will significantly help with this process by providing an m2000 RealTime System for PCR analysis, automated DNA specimen processor, and 15,000 CT Amplification tests to fully equip the regional lab so that it can process specimens already collected in The Carter-Center supported areas of Amhara region. Abbott's contribution will allow The Carter Center to assist the Amhara Regional Health Bureau to get more information about the relationship between infection and clinical presentation that will inform decisions to stop treatment, demonstrating that the program's efforts have succeeded in reducing the prevalence of trachoma.

Trachoma is the world's leading cause of infectious blindness and is transmitted easily from person to person through physical contact, shared household linens, or flies carrying the bacteria from one person to another. Trachoma infection causes the underside of the afflicted person's eyelids to become inflamed, eventually resulting in the formation of scar tissue after repeated infections. Over time, the scar tissue causes the eyelashes to curl inwards toward the eye in a painful condition known as trichiasis. The everted eyelashes constantly scratch the cornea, leading to pain, impaired vision, and ultimately, blindness. People with trichiasis often are unable to work to support themselves and their families, further entrenching the poverty cycle. Women, in particular, benefit from trachoma control programs, as they are nearly twice as likely as men to develop blinding trachoma. Fortunately, prevention and treatment are simple and cost-effective. The Carter Center implements the World Health Organization-endorsed SAFE strategy to prevent and treat the disease: Surgery to correct trichiasis; Antibiotics to treat active infections and prevent transmission; Facial cleanliness and personal hygiene which inhibit the transmission of disease; and Environmental improvements such as latrine building, which limits the population of the flies that spread trachoma.

The Carter Center is one of the largest NGOs delivering the SAFE strategy to combat trachoma globally, with more than 100 million antibiotic treatments distributed since 2000.

The Carter Center is honored to recognize the generosity of Abbott in its support of the Trachoma Control Program in Ethiopia. With the continued commitment of partners such as Abbott, we look forward to positively affecting the lives of the men, women, and children of the Amhara region of Ethiopia, who will no longer be at risk for the painful disability and blindness that is produced by trachoma.

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