Find Events Find People Find Jobs Find Sites Find Help Index


October 21, 2002

Carter participates in World Sight Day event

Emily Howard is coordinator of public realtions for the Carter Center.

“Good health is a basic human right, especially if the preventable affliction is confined to people who are poor, isolated, forgotten, ignored and often without hope. Just to know that someone cares about them can not only ease their physical pain but also remove an element of alienation and anger that can lead to hatred and violence.”

—Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter

World Sight Day, an annual event that focuses attention on global blindness, was held this year on Thursday, Oct. 10. Sponsored by Vision 2020, a coalition of more than 29 international organizations including the World Health Organization, World Sight Day aims to raise global awareness that 80 percent of blindness can be prevented or cured. In addition, the event encourages governments, corporations and other organizations to invest in global blindness prevention.

Of the four diseases targeted for awareness-building during World Sight Day 2002—cataracts, trachoma, onchocerciasis (river blindness) and childhood blindness—the Carter Center works year-round on prevention and treatment of two: trachoma and river blindness.

Through the Global River Blindness Program, the center has assisted in the delivery of more than 40 million treatments of the drug Mectizan in Africa and Latin America. The center is part of a global effort to eliminate the disease as a public health problem by 2007.

Applying experience and knowledge gained from its Guinea worm eradication and river
blindness control efforts, the Carter Center’s Trachoma Control Program fights blinding trachoma in Africa and Yemen.

In honor of World Sight Day, former President Jimmy Carter participated in an Oct. 8 media roundtable on the value of public-private partnerships in addressing global health problems. Joining him was Raymond Gilmartin, president and CEO of Merck & Co., which contributes Mectizan to the River Blindness Program.

Other roundtable participants included Frank Moore, chair of Lions Clubs International Foundation; Elizabeth Elhassan, country representative for SightSavers Interna-
tional/Nigeria; and Mike Whitlam, CEO of Vision 2020 and the event’s moderator.

The estimated economic burden of global blindness is more than $25 billion annually. World Sight Day, through events held in dozens of countries around the world, seeks
to increase public-private partnerships and awareness, which ultimately will lead to effective prevention of unnecessary suffering of millions.