More Links in News & Events

Jimmy Carter and Jimmy Ross Recognize Sudan's New Local Lions Club as Crucial Partner in Country's Fight Against River Blindness and Trachoma

Mr. Khalid Hamid Bakhit, Federal Ministry of Health
Telephone: 249 (0) 122 674 564
Emily Staub, The Carter Center
Cell Phone: 251-912-144-177
Atlanta Office: 404-420-5126

KHARTOUM, Sudan…On Thursday, Feb. 9, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Lions Clubs International President Jimmy Ross encouraged Sudan's local Lions Club to participate in the fight against two blinding diseases affecting the country-river blindness and trachoma. The appeal comes during President Carter's multi-country tour of Africa to promote health issues affecting Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Sudan.

"This is an exciting time for Sudan, where we believe it is now possible for regions in the country to eliminate river blindness," said President Carter, founder of The Carter Center and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. "Sudan's commitment to fight this debilitating and stigmatizing disease is a step toward a future of health and peace in the country. However, tomorrow the hard work continues, and strong technical assistance and governmental support will be required to complete this endeavor."

President Carter and Ross also met with Sudan Federal Minister of Health Tabita Botors Shokai to discuss the country's work to control river blindness and trachoma and to eradicate Guinea worm disease.

In partnership with Lions Clubs SightFirst program, The Carter Center has been helping to control river blindness in Sudan since 1995 and has been working to control trachoma in the country since 1999. Since 1994, The Carter Center has worked to reduce the cases of Guinea worm disease in Sudan through its Guinea Worm Eradication Program. Harboring approximately 81 percent of the world's remaining cases, Sudan has become the last frontier on the difficult path to eradicating this debilitating parasitic disease. Success in the country has been proven as indigenous transmission of Guinea worm disease has been interrupted in the northern states since 2001.

Lions Clubs International has been involved with blindness prevention and treatment for more than 80 years through their SightFirst program. The 20-member Khartoum Lions Club, aiming at the revival of a Khartoum Lions Club established in the early years of Sudan's independence, has been organized and registered in northern Sudan with Lions Club International in June 2005 by concerned local community leaders headed by Mr. Tawfig Bayoumi and Dr. El Kheir Khalfalla Khalid. The club members intend to engage in basic social development activities with emphasis on participating in combating blinding diseases in the country.

"As Lions, we are passionate about the need to end preventable blindness," said Ross. "It is heartening to anticipate Sudanese Lions under the most difficult of conditions make positive changes in their communities."

River blindness, or onchocerciasis, is a parasitic disease transmitted by the bites of small black flies that breed in rapidly flowing streams and rivers. The debilitating disease causes severe itching, skin rashes, and eye damage, sometimes leaving sufferers completely blind. The Carter Center's River Blindness Program in partnership with Sudan's ministry of health, helps to control river blindness in Sudan with support by the Lions Clubs International Foundation SightFirst program and the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control. The skin and eye disease associated with the infection can be prevented and symptoms reduced through an annual dose of the drug Mectizan®, donated by Merck & Co., Inc.

Efforts for total river blindness elimination were officially launched on Dec. 12, 2006, by the Federal Ministry of Health. The Government of Sudan changed its approach from trying to control the disease to eliminating it. This decision was made after the Mectizan Expert Committee approved its plans to switch from annual to semiannual treatments in areas where it appears technically feasible to eradicate the condition. Currently the elimination efforts focus on the river blindness foci in Abu Hamed and Sundus.

Trachoma is a devastating bacterial infection of the eye that has long been known to be a public health problem in Sudan, but great progress has been made to eliminate the disease in the country. In the past several years, the Government of Sudan Trachoma Control Program, in partnership with Sudan's National Program for Prevention of Blindness, created a national trachoma task force, established state committees for prevention of blindness, and nominated state blindness prevention coordinators. Sudan's Federal minister of health has targeted the year 2015 for the elimination of blinding trachoma in northern Sudan at the launching of the Trachoma Strategic Five-Year Plan in December 2005.


Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter will call international attention to the health needs among impoverished communities in Ghana, Sudan, Ethiopia, and Nigeria, when he leads a delegation of senior-level Carter Center officials to Africa on Feb. 6-16.

The Carter Center celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2007. A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, The Carter Center has made tremendous contribution to improving life and alleviating human suffering in more than 65 countries around the world by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; improving mental health care; and teaching farmers to increase crop production. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide.

Lions Clubs International (LCI), based in Oak Brook, Il., is the world's largest service club organization, with 1.3 million members. The Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF), the grant-making arm of LCI, fights preventable blindness primarily through its SightFirst program. Initially funded with $143 million in donations from Lions worldwide, SightFirst has restored sight to 7 million people with cataracts, prevented serious vision loss in 20 million people, and improved eye care services for hundreds of millions of people in 90 countries around the world. Since 1990, and through investments, LCIF's SightFirst program has awarded more than U.S. $202 million in grants. 

Learn more about the Carter Center's Trachoma Control and River Blindness Programs

Donate Now

Sign Up For Email

Please sign up below for important news about the work of The Carter Center and special event invitations.

Please leave this field empty
Now, we invite you to Get Involved
Back To Top