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CBM is a member of ICEVI (International Council for the Education of Persons with Visual Impairment)
Read about CBM and vision

World Sight Day 2012

a woman who is blind - two children are looking at her
Lupetu (centre, from the Democratic Republic of Congo) lost her eyesight to river blindness (onchocerciasis). Read more below...

CBM marks World Sight Day 2012 by celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Mectizan Donation Program. This programme is a global success story, allowing more than 60 million people per year to be treated for river blindness (onchocerciasis), a Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) and the world’s second leading infectious cause of blindness.

25 years of Mectizan for river blindness control

World Sight Day (held annually on the second Thursday in October) is a day of awareness to focus global attention on blindness, visual impairment and rehabilitation of people with visual impairments. This year CBM marks this day - 11 October - by highlighting the 25th anniversary of the Mectizan Donation Program (MDP).

As part of this celebration, CBM President Professor Allen Foster will take part in a panel discussion on 'Disease Elimination in the 21st Century' at the Royal Geographical Society in London. Mike Davies (CBM UK) will also attend this event, where former President of Ghana Mr John Kufour will deliver a keynote speech.

The Mectizan Donation Program - An unparalleled success

River blindness (onchocerciasis) - a Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) - is the world’s second leading infectious cause of blindness. It is estimated that 37 million people are already infected and up to 140 million more are at risk. Combating this, pharmaceutical company Merck and Co have donated more than one billion treatments of Mectizan since 1987, making the Mectizan Donation Program the largest on-going medical donation programme in history.

This programme is an unparalleled success story in terms of the number of people who have benefited and the level of cooperation demonstrated by Merck, UN agencies, NGDOs (Non-Governmental Development Organisations), governments and communities of endemic countries.

As part of this programme CBM, together with its partners, treated more than 15 million people for river blindness in 2011.

Lupetu's story

A woman with a baby one one arm and holding a white pill in her other (open) hand ©CBM
Batakabiswe, Lupetu's daughter, taking Mectizan
Lupetu (pictured above) lives in the Democratic Republic of Congo in a household of eight, including her daughter and two grandchildren. She was an active farmer, but has been living with river blindness (onchocerciasis) for eight years and can no longer help her family with their farming.

In the beginning, she had itching on her arms and legs, but as a result of regular medication from CBM she no longer has these symptoms. Unfortunately however, the treatment was too late to save her eyesight.

Batakabiswe (right, with her child) is Lupetu's daughter. She has no symptoms of river blindness and takes Mectizan as a preventative. Read more on the CBM UK website.

Community sensitisation to Mass Drug Administration (MDA)

A group of people, some wearin white aprons, standing in an outside courtyard acting out a play ©CBM/Takougang
Play carried out in community sensitisation exercise, DRC.
This image shows a 'play', which was organised as a sensitisation tool in the Katanga region of the Democratic Republic of Congo by Dr Innocent Takougang (Programme Officer for Onchocerciasis and Neglected Tropical Diseases - DRC, CBM Central Africa Regional Office).

The play depicts the necessity of a concerted effort of the health personnel, the community distributor and community members when tackling Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Here, the health workers are those with aprons, the community distributor holds the white 'dose pole' and a package of the drug Mectizan. The lady behind the the green bucket displays the nuisance of the black fly vector of onchocerciasis as well as the intense skin itching that is one of the symptoms of infection.

Read about CBM working in the fields of Vision and NTDs

Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)

CBM supporting Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) programmes in areas where they are identified as a public health problem

NTDs overview, including news and stories

CBM commitment

Prof. Allen Foster


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