(ITI)ITI is excited to announce that three new countries received their first shipments of Zithromax® this year and are undertaking mass distribution. Burundi, Cameroon and Malawi were approved by ITI’s Trachoma Expert Committee (TEC) in 2010. The TEC meets twice a year to examine data, assess progress, and advise on actions needed in the fight to eliminate blinding trachoma. They also evaluate applications from countries that seek donations of Zithromax®. Their criteria include disease burden, resources committed, national ownership/commitment, partnerships, effective strategies for mass distribution, implementation of the full SAFE Strategy, and monitoring and evaluation.
Burundi: While it had long been assumed there was no trachoma in Burundi, a population-based survey from 2009 to 2010 found trachoma in some districts, which was likely related to cross-border migration. With a year of funding and a commitment to support Zithromax® distribution from the international NGO, CBM, the TEC approved Burundi for Zithromax® donation for one year. The three districts of Buhiga, Nyabikere and Muyingo will each participate with a total of 735,313 treatments approved. Already this year, 653,216 treatments have been distributed.
Cameroon: A National Trachoma Task Force and a strong NTD task forcehave been established in Cameroon. That fact, combined with USAID support for NTD control, meant that eight districts — Bourha, Hina, Koza, Meri, Mogode, Pette, Rou and Tokombere — were approved for a total of nearly 975,000 Zithromax® treatments. (A USAID grant, under a cooperative agreement with RTI International, was made to Helen Keller International (HKI) so it can provide technical assistance to the national NTD program’s community- and school-based Mass Drug Administration (MDA) including support for advocacy, training, social mobilization, and implementation of MDA campaigns.)
Plans are underway to complete mapping of the Northern and Far North Regions of Cameroon for trachoma before the end of 2011. Those results, along with more information on how the S, F, and E components of the SAFE strategy are being carried out, will influence future Zithromax® donations to Cameroon.
Malawi: Sightsavers is supporting training and implementation costs of the A component of the trachoma program, which allowed for the approval of distribution of over 930,000 Zithromax® treatments in the two districts of Chikwawa and Mchinji in Malawi. The Ministry of Health will survey another district — Nkotakota —where it believes there may be higher prevalence of trachoma.
ITI welcomes these new countries to the Zithromax® donation program, and looks forward to supporting them as they work to eliminate blinding trachoma in their countries.