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At Pfizer, we believe socially responsible entrepreneurship is essential to improving the health of every individual. In the effort to eliminate trachoma, the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness, the trachoma community employs an entrepreneurial spirit in its partnerships and strategies.
Together with more than 100 organizations, Pfizer is working to implement the World Health Organization’s SAFE strategy: Surgery, Antibiotics, Facial Cleanliness and Environmental Improvement. The SAFE strategy relies on participation from many players within the private sector and global health community to function.
“It’s an integrated approach, and we’re always looking across all of the countries for examples of innovation and entrepreneurship where hygiene promotion, production of soap, sanitation, school-based programs, and so on, are being used in different and innovative ways in order to reach more people,” says Paul Emerson, Ph.D., Program Director of the International Trachoma Initiative.
The relationships Pfizer has formed with social entrepreneurs within the trachoma community are crucial to making strides toward trachoma elimination in countries like Ethiopia and other nations where the disease is endemic around the world.
Pfizer partners with over 100 organizations to deliver care and antibiotics to treat trachoma, the leading infectious cause of blindness, to people in remote communities in Ethiopia. Individuals living in rural communities are often highly susceptible to trachoma due to inadequate sanitation and healthcare resources. This is particularly true in Ethiopia, the country most affected by this devastating disease.
“Trachoma is a communicable disease. One single child can bring trachoma to his or her family where the siblings and the father and mother live together. It can easily go to the family, and then to the community as well,” says Menbere Alemu, Ethiopia Country Director of the International Trachoma Initiative. “For my country, getting rid of blinding trachoma is reducing poverty. My hope is to eliminate blinding trachoma from my country and other parts of the world.”
Trachoma’s devastation extends beyond the physical and emotional pain caused to each individual, as the disease can impact families and entire communities on both social and economic levels. Individuals who develop trachoma struggle to support themselves and their families, and are oftentimes cast aside in the community.
Through the continued efforts and expanded services of our partners, we continue to make significant progress toward the global elimination of trachoma.