October 18, 2010, 3:58 pm
By The Carter Center
In Aloshi village in central Nigeria, four-year-old David Nuhu stands quietly as a health worker measures his height against a brightly colored pole. The health worker will use the measuring stick to carefully calculate what dose of Zithromax® (donated by Pfizer Inc.) will safely treat the little boy’s trachoma infection.
It’s a historic moment for David, his community, and all of Nigeria, as David recently became the first in his country to receive the Pfizer-donated medicine.
All Photos: Carter Center/ E. Cromwell
Aloshi village in eastern Nigeria was the first village in the country to receive Pfizer-donated antibiotic treatments for trachoma through a partnership between The Carter Center and the Nigeria Ministry of Health.
Children bear the highest burden of infections with trachoma, and may pass their infections on to their caretakers, traditionally women.
After being exposed repeatedly to trachoma infections over many years, women are especially vulnerable to the excruciating advanced stage of the disease called trichiasis, which causes permanent vision damage and even blindness. Although preventable, without access to health education, prevention tools, and treatment, women with trichiasis often become a burden to their families, and are sometimes disowned from them entirely.
However, there is hope. Since 1999, in partnership with the Nigeria Ministry of Health, The Carter Center has been integrating trachoma prevention into lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis, river blindness, and most recently, malaria control, among other programs in Plateau and Nasarawa states. When efforts began, trachoma control activities focused on two of the four ways to prevent blinding trachoma: encouraging face and hand washing and improving environmental sanitation.
David Nuhu, 4, receives help from his mother to take the antibiotic Zithromax (donated by Pfizer Inc.) before she receives her dose as tablets. Annual treatments will help everyone in the community have a future free from trachoma.
In October 2010, the Carter Center-assisted trachoma control program was able to expand its activities to include mass drug administration to fight trachoma in targeted areas.
So, after David and his mother receive health education, David takes a quick swallow of the banana-flavored antibiotic, and Nigeria takes a major step toward a future free from trachoma.
Learn more about the Carter Center’s Trachoma Control Program >