Individuals Working Together to Eliminate Trachoma

Dec 7, 2017 8:30 AM ET

Every day, thousands of individuals work in different capacities toward the global elimination of trachoma, a neglected tropical disease (NTD) and the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness. From manufacturing the antibiotic used to help treat trachoma, to distributing medication in affected communities, to performing surgery on those suffering from trichiasis, the blinding stage of trachoma, the roles in the fight to eliminate this disease are wide-ranging.

Girija Sankar and Luis Pabón Quintero are two of the individuals working toward trachoma elimination. Sankar’s organization, the International Trachoma Initiative (ITI), partners closely with Pfizer Inc., the manufacturer of the antibiotic, to manage the distribution of Pfizer’s donated antibiotics.

“As a person who lives in the United States and works in disease elimination, we have the responsibility to ensure that other people also have the same access to opportunities to pursue their dreams, hopes and aspirations the way we do,” says Sankar, assistant director of programs and communications at ITI. “Every individual has that responsibility to their fellow human being.”

Quintero, who works in Pfizer’s manufacturing plant in Puerto Rico, oversees the packaging of the antibiotic. “If I could talk to someone with trachoma, I’d tell them not to give up, that we are all in this battle together,” he says.

Cross-sector partnerships such as the one between ITI and Pfizer are vital to ensuring the 182 million people still at risk of trachoma receive the care and treatment they need. By combining the efforts of individuals working for governments, the pharmaceutical industry, civil society, philanthropic organizations and other entities, we can achieve a world without this debilitating disease.

Learn more about the individuals working on the fight against trachoma: