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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

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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.

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

Š HKI/Wendy Lee

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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.

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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.

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

Š HKI/Carol Stein

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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

Š HKI

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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.

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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!

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

Š HKI

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

Š HKI/Video for Good

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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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