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Helen Keller International Preventing Blindness in Africa

February 2010 1

About Vitamin A Deficiency • Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is the leading cause of blindness in children in the world today. – The World Health Organization estimates that as many as 140 million children, especially in Africa and Southeast Asia, suffer from VAD.

• Each year, up to 500,000 children, or up to 60 per hour, go blind because of vitamin A deficiency. – Tragically, 70% of these children die within a year of losing their sight. 2

Up to 500,000 Children Go Blind Each Year Because Of Vitamin A Deficiency

Š HKI/Wendy Lee


The Challenge in Africa • As many as half of the children in African countries suffer from vitamin A deficiency. • In Sierra Leone, for example, nearly 3 out of 10 children do not live to see their 5 th birthday. • The challenge: how to reverse the devastation caused by blindness and malnutrition.


As Many as Half The Children in African Countries Suffer From Vitamin A Deficiency

Š HKI/Wendy Lee


Helen Keller International: Providing Solutions to VAD in Africa • Just two doses of high-potency vitamin A capsules are needed each year to prevent blindness in at-risk children, at a cost of just $1.00 per child per year. • Helen Keller International’s goal is to ensure that the capsules reach those most in need. – We work with local partners to distribute vitamin A capsules twice a year to children under five.


How Helen Keller International Prevents Vitamin A Deficiency • Vitamin A not only saves sight, it also saves lives by helping the immune system fight illness. • More than 41 million African children benefitted from our vitamin A supplementation programs last year.


More than 41 million African children benefitted from our programs last year

Š HKI/Carol Stein


About Onchocerciasis • Onchocerciasis, is the world’s second-leading infectious cause of blindness, afflicting 18 million people, mostly in Africa. • Also known as river blindness, onchocerciasis is caused by parasitic worms that are transmitted through the bite of the black fly. • In Africa, 37 million people are infected with onchocerciasis and 89 million are at risk of infection. 9

In Africa, 37 Million People Are Infected with Onchocerciasis



How Helen Keller International Helps Control Onchocerciasis • An annual dose of the drug Mectizan® (ivermectin), generously donated by Merck & Co., Inc., prevents symptoms for one year. • In order to eliminate onchocerciasis as a public health problem, the drug must be given to community members for 15-20 years, the life cycle of the worms.


How Helen Keller International Helps Control Onchocerciasis • Helen Keller International trains and mobilizes vast networks of community volunteers to get MectizanŽ to the people who need it. • Thanks to our efforts and these hardworking volunteers, onchocerciasis is on its way to being eliminated in Africa!


Working with local volunteers, we are eliminating onchocerciasis in Africa!



Help Helen Keller International Save Sight & Lives in Africa: Donate Today!

Š HKI/Video for Good


Helen Keller International: Preventing Blindness in Africa  

Helen Keller International is an NGO dedicated to preventing blindness in Africa through vitamin A supplementation and Onchocerciasis contro...

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