Lions Clubs International Foundation

A Look Inside a Key Partnership

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A Look Inside a Key Partnership: The Lions Clubs International Foundation

For over 25 years, the Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) has worked in tandem with The Carter Center to bring an end to preventable causes of blindness on a global scale, creating one of the most impactful partnerships in the Center’s history.

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“I have a feeling of gratitude for what Lions do throughout the world. Lions have changed my life. But I think even more gratifying to me is to go into a village in Africa or Latin America and see people who have suffered all their lives and know that they will never again go blind.”– Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter

Beginning with an initial donation to the Carter Center’s river blindness work in Nigeria in 1996, the Lions Clubs International Foundation has become one of the Center’s most significant partners.

LCIF's mission is to support the efforts of Lions Clubs and partners in serving communities locally and globally, giving hope and impacting lives through humanitarian service projects and grants. These grants allow Lions to do large-scale service projects that would not be possible without financial assistance.

A Key Partnership By the Numbers

The Lions Clubs International Foundation is a longstanding partner of The Carter Center in the fight to prevent disease and build hope in impoverished communities.

67million
dollars in total support from LCIF to date
191+million
trachoma treatments provided from 1999-2019
257+million
river blindness treatments provided from 1996-2019

In 1990, the Lions Clubs International Foundation established the SightFirst Program, an aggressive global blindness prevention initiative. From 1994 to present, the Foundation has supported The Carter Center in its fight against blinding trachoma and debilitating river blindness in 14 countries across Africa and Latin America. The Lions-Carter Center SightFirst Partnership programs are among the world’s most ambitious and successful sight initiatives and have led to significant impact in the lives of millions of people.

Lions In the Field

The Lions Clubs of Ethiopia are active participants in River Blindness and Trachoma work, participating in mass drug administration, surgery and advocacy work. Lions Clubs members are critical advocates for political support of the Center’s initiatives locally, and many Carter Center and Ministry of Health staff are proud members of their local Lions Clubs. In 2016, International President Joe Preston and Lion Hon. Dr. Tebebe Berhan participated in a campaign to distribute Zithromax® in the Amhara Region of Ethiopia.

In each country, local Lions Clubs work in close coordination with Carter Center staff to mobilize communities to participate in mass drug distribution, sight-saving surgery campaigns, and latrine construction. Lions provide ongoing technical support, monitor progress, and meet with influential leaders in their countries to advocate for continued attention to river blindness and trachoma.

As a result of this partnership, the World Health Organization has verified four countries in the Americas as free of river blindness (Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, and Guatemala). Further, transmission has been interrupted and mass drug administration halted for river blindness in many parts of Sudan, Uganda, Nigeria, and Ethiopia.

Jungle Airstrips Bring Medicine and Education to Fight River Blindness

Helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft deliver health teams deep in the Amazon rainforest to bring essential treatments to the Yanomami in the fight to eliminate river blindness.

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In Mali, Niger and the Amhara region of Ethiopia, the local Lions Clubs are deeply involved in all aspects of the Trachoma Control Program – making these some of the most successful in the world! More than 820,000 people have received sight-saving surgery to treat trachomatous trichiasis (TT), the final stage of the blinding disease; and in Amhara, Ethiopia, which is the most known trachoma endemic region in the world, over 5 million people, 25% of the area population, no longer require mass drug administration to prevent the disease.

To date, the partnership has led to the distribution of over 257 million treatments for river blindness and over 191 million treatments for trachoma.

Sight-saving Surgery

Learn how thousands of free surgeries in the Amhara region of Ethiopia are helping people with advanced trachoma, known as trichiasis, which can lead to blindness if left untreated.

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LCIF and The Carter Center share a belief in the power of partnership and collaborative impact. Millions are free from these diseases thanks to this partnership and Lions support. These accomplishments would not have occurred without the Foundation’s early investments and the constant support and advocacy of Lions Clubs in each country. The Carter Center is immensely grateful for its unwavering partnership with the Lions Clubs International Foundation. This partnership embodies the incredible impact that shared passion and true commitment can have on a global scale.

The Partnership in Action

  • A Lions delegation visits with President Carter during their annual visit to the Center in fall 2019. (Photo: The Carter Center/C. Joe)

  • Former U.S. President Carter and his grandson Jason Carter, Carter Center Board Chair, are both proud Lions Clubs members. (Photo: The Carter Center)

  • Nafissa Mahamane Bouba, age 13 and a native of Niger, photographed just three months after TT surgery on both eyes. “Before, I couldn't see," she said. "Now I see very well. I will tell everyone I meet how much this surgery has helped me." (Photo: The Carter Center)

  • With generous and committed support from LCIF since 2001, The Carter Center has been a proponent of the WHO-endorsed SAFE strategy in hopes of eliminating the spread of trachoma and ultimately preventing blindness. (Photo: The Carter Center)

  • The Lions-Carter Center SightFirst Initiative, in strong partnership with the Amhara Regional Health Bureau, works to prevent the leading cause of preventable blindness. (Photo: The Carter Center)

  • Mass drug administration to treat river blindness occurs four times per year in Gondar region, Ethiopia. (Photo: The Carter Center/R. Youngblood)

  • Community health worker Tesema Desalegn distributes Mectizan, donated by Merck & Co., Inc., in Gambella, Ethiopia. (Photo: The Carter Center/R. Youngblood)

  • Community health worker Juliana Onwumere explains river blindness to Nigerian native Onyekaozuru Ibezim, who has leopard skin on her legs due to the disease’s lasting effects. (Photo: The Carter Center/R. McDowall)

  • On Jan. 31, 2016, the Lions-Carter Center SightFirst Initiative celebrated its 15th mass drug administration campaign in Bahir Dar Town, Ethiopia. The team dispensed nearly 10 million doses of the trachoma-fighting antibiotic Zithromax®, donated by Pfizer. (Photo: The Carter Center/R. Slaven)

  • Trachoma patient rinses her face following treatment in Riwoto village, Republic of South Sudan. (Photo: The Carter Center/C. Marin)

  • An Ethiopian girl looks at her eye in the mirror. Volunteers, national and regional health workers, Carter Center staff, and Lions Clubs members distribute Zithromax®, the drug used to treat trachoma. (Photo: The Carter Center/A. Mosher)

  • The World Health Organization-endorsed SAFE strategy represents a series of interventions to control trachoma: Surgery, Antibiotics, Facial cleanliness, and Environmental improvement. The Carter Center, LCIF, and ministries of health work together to implement the SAFE strategy in order to eliminate trachoma from at-risk communities. (Photo: The Carter Center/L. Rotondo)

  • Ugandan Lions Clubs members celebrate the opening of a new Carter Center-Ministry of Health office in 2018. (Photo: The Carter Center)

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