International Trachoma Initiative (ITI)

Partnership objectives

In 1998, Pfizer and the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation co-established the International Trachoma Initiative (ITI) in response to the World Health Organization (WHO) call to achieve Global Elimination of Trachoma by the year 2020 (GET 2020). The ITI is currently administered by the Task Force for Global Health, an independent not for profit, and manages Pfizer’s global donation of Zithromax® (azithromycin), an antibiotic used to treat trachoma in certain countries. ITI collaborates with governmental and nongovernmental agencies at local, national, and international levels to implement the (WHO) recommended SAFE strategy for trachoma control.

Supported by the International Trachoma Initiative, health care workers in Ethiopia distribute Zithromax® to children. Supported by the International Trachoma Initiative, health care workers in Ethiopia distribute Zithromax® to children. Copyright Mark Tuschman

What are the health needs and challenges?

Trachoma is an infectious eye disease that causes eyelids to turn in and lashes to scrape the eyeball, causing great pain, corneal ulcers and irreversible blindness unless treated with antibiotics or a simple surgical procedure. Trachoma affects the poorest of the poor and nearly 232 million people are living in trachoma-endemic areas in 58 countries. 

Trachoma is treatable and preventable with full implementation of the WHO recommended SAFE strategy:

Surgery for inturned eyelashes/eyelids.

Antibiotics to treat and prevent active infection.

Facial cleanliness to prevent disease transmission.

Environmental change to increase access to water and sanitation.

Description of partnership activities and how they address needs and challenges

Pfizer, through the ITI, is partnering with a number of global health organizations working to eliminate trachoma. They include: governments, UN Agencies, The World Health Organization, USAID, Department for International Development (DFID), The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Carter Center, CBM, The Fred Hollows Foundation, Helen Keller International, The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology, Light for the World, Lions Club International, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Organisation pour la Prévention de la Cécité, Orbis, The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, RTI International, Sightsavers, The Task Force for Global Health, Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins, and World Vision. 

Lessons learned 

The International Coalition of Trachoma Control (ICTC) supports efforts to eliminate trachoma aligned with the WHO GET2020 Alliance's 2016 plan of action Eliminating Trachoma: Accelerating Towards 2020, which outlines what needs to be done to scale up programs and strengthen health systems to achieve the global elimination of trachoma by the year 2020. 

This builds on earlier action plans: The end in sight: 2020 INSight, ICTC's 2011 trachoma elimination roadmap, and WHO's 2011 Accelerating work to overcome the global impact of neglected tropical diseases - a roadmap for implementation, a comprehensive plan of control, elimination and eradication targets for 17 NTDs to be reached between 2012-2020. 

Summary of impact and forward looking information 

  • To date, through the ITI, Pfizer has donated 620 million doses of its antibiotic.
  • Since the start of the program in 1998, more than a hundred million people in 33 countries have been treated.
  • Oman and Morocco have achieved validation of elimination by WHO. 

 

Videos

The Community Impact of Trachoma

Together We Can Eliminate Blinding Trachoma

Supporting Progress toward Trachoma Elimination in Ethiopia

Going Back to Market

Tackling Trachoma

Partnership information

Company(ies) Pfizer

Partner(s) Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child, and Adolescent Health (MNCAH), WHO, Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, Eyes of the World, Fred Hollows Foundation, Helen Keller International, Interchurch Medical Assistance (IMA), International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, Kilimanjaro Center for Community Ophthalmology, Light for the World, Lions Club International, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Malaria Consortium, Mectizan Donation Program, Operation Eye Sight Universal, Orbis, Organisation pour la Prevention de la Cecite, Sightsavers International, Task Force for Global Health, UK Department for International Development (DFID), UNICEF, University of California, San Francisco, University of Melbourne, US Agency for International Development (USAID), WaterAid, Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University, World Vision

Type of Partner(s) Academia / Hospitals, Government, IGOs, Multilaterals, NGOs, PDPs

Therapeutic Focus Neglected Tropical Diseases

Disease(s) Trachoma

Program Type(s) Availability of Treatment - Product Donations, Health System Infrastructure - Training, Prevention Programs - Awareness & Outreach, Prevention Programs - Mass Drug Administrations (MDA)

Targeted Population(s) Children, Elderly, Men, Mothers, People with low income, Women, Youth

Region(s) East Asia & Pacific, Middle East & North Africa, South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa

Number of Countries 20

Country(ies) Burkina Faso, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, Tanzania, The Gambia, Uganda, Vietnam, Zambia

Start Date 1998

More information International Trachoma Initiative website

Anticipated completion date 2020