Ecuador has become the second country in the world to eliminate River Blindness, a debilitating disease that is one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide. This has been achieved after two decades of concerted action by the Government of Ecuador, local communities and international development partners, including CBM UK, the overseas disability charity.
Kirsty Smith, Chief Executive of CBM UK said, “I am delighted to congratulate the Government and people of Ecuador on eradicating River Blindness. We are proud that CBM was a partner in this initiative from the beginning and that together we have achieved this significant milestone. 80% of blindness and visual impairment is avoidable and this shows how much can be achieved when we work together with Governments and other partners.”
CBM UK was instrumental in setting up the River Blindness programme in Ecuador in 1992, working with the River Blindness Foundation and Ministry of Health. The Ministry of Health took over the programme and CBM continued its support until 2011, providing awareness campaigns and training of medical staff and community workers, as well as distributing Ivermectin treatment to 119 affected communities. The drug has been donated by pharmaceutical company Merck Sharp & Dome.
World Sight Day – No More Avoidable Blindness
9th October is World Sight Day; this year CBM UK and other members of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) are calling for an end to avoidable blindness. 285 million people worldwide are blind or visually impaired but in 80% of cases, this could be prevented or treated easily and cost-effectively, as in the case of River Blindness.
CBM UK’s campaign for World Sight Day focusses on Trachoma, a painful eye infection that can lead to blindness unless it is treated and reinfection prevented. Like river blindness, Trachoma can be eliminated. CBM is part of an international coalition working to eliminate Trachoma by 2020.
CBM is the world’s leading overseas Christian disability charity committed to improving the quality of life of people with disabilities and those at risk of disability. Working in over 70 of the poorest countries of the world, CBM reaches out to more than 23 million people each year. To learn more about CBM please visit: www.cbmuk.org.uk or follow us on www.facebook.com/CBMUK.ORG and on Twitter @CBMuk