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10 Million Ethiopians to Receive Free Antibiotic During Historic MalTra Week in Amhara Region

Media Contact:
For The Carter Center: Emily Staub, Associate Director, Office of Public information +1-404-420-5126
For the ITI, In US: Elizabeth Kurylo, ITI Communications Manager, +1-404-592-1420
For Pfizer: Andrew Widger, Director Media Relations, +44-1737-330909
For Lions Clubs International: Nicole Brown, Communications Manager, +1-630-468-6887

Zeghie, Ethiopia - The largest single event in trachoma control history is underway. This week, the Lions-Carter Center SightFirst project, the Amhara National Regional State Health Bureau, and the International Trachoma Initiative will provide Pfizer-donated antibiotic treatment to 10 million Ethiopians at risk for blinding trachoma.

In a single week, more than 15,000 community health workers will treat people in more than 4,500 villages in the western part of Ethiopia's Amhara region. The pioneering campaign, known as MalTra (malaria + trachoma) week also involves malaria case detection and treatment. Integrating program efforts saves time and money, and allows additional resources to be used for other interventions, such as latrine-building, health education, and eyelid surgery.

"This campaign is of great significance to us as it targets trachoma and malaria, two major health problems of our communities in Amhara region at an unprecedented scale" said H.E. Ato Ayalew Gobezie, president of the regional state.

The Amhara region is a crucial place to demonstrate the campaign's potential because there are more trachoma cases here than anywhere else in the world. Lessons learned here can help improve the lives of millions in Ethiopia and other trachoma-endemic countries. Trachoma is an infectious eye disease, and the world's leading cause of preventable blindness. The Pfizer-donated antibiotic treats and prevents trachoma.

"We shouldn't allow malaria and trachoma to prey on Ethiopian people, destroying lives and jeopardizing the country's future," said Dr. John B. Hardman, CEO and president of The Carter Center. "We should do everything possible to support the Ministry of Health scale-up interventions to assist all the people of Ethiopia so that they can realize their full potential free from these devastating diseases." 

During the first MalTra week in November 2008, 4.8 million people were treated. Since then, the campaign has been conducted every six months, treating more people and alternating between east and west Amhara. This, the fifth MalTra campaign, will be the first time when more than half the people in the region will be treated at once. It will also see the administration of the 225-millionth dose of the antibiotic Zithromax®, donated by Pfizer Inc through the International Trachoma Initiative (ITI) globally.  Ethiopia has received 32 percent of the global donation of Zithromax® since the program's inception; representing an approximate value of USD 1.6 billion.

"We are delighted to be part of such an inspiring collaboration and model public health campaign - the latest in our ongoing commitment to eliminate blinding trachoma by 2020," said Dr Freda Lewis-Hall, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Pfizer Inc. "Like all of the health programs Pfizer is involved in across this region, it's the strength of the partnership between the organizations and health professionals involved that makes large scale events such as MalTra week possible."

Trachoma is a neglected tropical disease. Infections spread through contact with contaminated clothes, hands, and flies that are attracted to people's eyes. In the advanced stage of the disease, called trichiasis, eyelashes turn inward, scraping the cornea and causing excruciating pain and scarring. The result is diminished vision and eventually blindness.

"Strong partnerships are essential to successfully tackling public health problems at this magnitude and the strong partnership among Lions, The Carter Center, the Amhara Regional Health Bureau, the International Trachoma Initiative and Pfizer is invaluable," said Sid L. Scruggs III, Lions Clubs International Foundation president. "Lions in Ethiopia and around the world are committed to preventing trachoma and raising awareness in affected communities."

The week-long campaign began in Zeghie town, which is 27 km from Bahir Dar with a total population of 12,541.  It has been part of MalTra week for the past two years.  The launching event was colorfully decorated by Zeghie primary school children's songs on malaria and trachoma and vibrant performance of cultural dance.


About Lions Clubs International/Lions Clubs International Foundation
Lions Clubs International is the world's largest service club organization with more than 1.35 million members in 45,000 clubs in 206 countries and geographical areas around the world. Since 1917, Lions clubs have aided the blind and visually impaired and made a strong commitment to community service and serving youth throughout the world.

Lions Clubs International Foundation is the charitable arm of Lions Clubs International. LCIF was ranked by a Financial Times study as the #1 non-governmental organization with which to partner. Established in 1968, LCIF has been preventing avoidable blindness on a global scale for more than 20 years through the SightFirst program. Learn more at

About The Carter Center
A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in more than 70 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; improving mental health care; and teaching farmers in developing nations to increase crop production. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide. Please visit to learn more about The Carter Center. "Waging Peace. Fighting Disease. Building Hope."

About The International Trachoma Initiative (ITI)
The International Trachoma Initiative (ITI) is a non-governmental organization working to prevent, treat and ultimately eliminate blinding trachoma. With programs in 19 countries in Africa and Asia, ITI is a major proponent and facilitator of the SAFE strategy to prevent and eliminate trachoma through Surgery, Antibiotics, Facial cleanliness and Environmental improvement. ITI was created through a public-private partnership of the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation and Pfizer Inc, and is now a program of the Task Force for Global Health. ITI collaborates with international agencies, governmental, and non-governmental organizations to build targeted support—including Zithromax® donated by Pfizer—for expanded implementation of the SAFE strategy, operational research and program evaluation, education and advocacy.

About Pfizer Inc.:  Working together for a healthier world™
At Pfizer, we apply science and our global resources to improve health and well-being at every stage of life.  We strive to set the standard for quality, safety and value in the discovery, development and manufacturing of medicines for people and animals.  Our diversified global health care portfolio includes human and animal biologic and small molecule medicines and vaccines, as well as nutritional products and many of the world's best-known consumer products.  Every day, Pfizer colleagues work across developed and emerging markets to advance wellness, prevention, treatments and cures that challenge the most feared diseases of our time.  Consistent with our responsibility as the world's leading biopharmaceutical company, we also collaborate with health care providers, governments and local communities to support and expand access to reliable, affordable health care around the world.  For more than 150 years, Pfizer has worked to make a difference for all who rely on us.  To learn more about our commitments, please visit us at

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