SOURCE: Vitamin Angels

February 13, 2007 14:29 ET

Global Campaign Launches to Eradicate Childhood Blindness

Vitamin Angels Moves Forward With Operation 20/20

SANTA BARBARA, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- February 13, 2007 -- While the national debate rages on about the efficacy of vitamins, one group is launching an aggressive campaign called Operation 20/20 to eradicate childhood blindness caused by vitamin A deficiency (VAD) worldwide.

The goal of Operation 20/20 is to eradicate childhood blindness caused by VAD by the year 2020. VAD affects between 100 and 140 million children annually and of those children up to one-half million will go blind. The true tragedy is that one-half of these children will die within 12 months of going blind from opportunistic infections and associated diseases. Research shows 80 percent of blindness is preventable.

"Operation 20/20 is an extremely ambitious but attainable goal," says Howard Schiffer, executive director of Vitamin Angels, a nonprofit that has been providing vital nutrition and fighting VAD around the world since 1994. "We know that just two high-dose vitamin A capsules can prevent vitamin A deficiency childhood blindness. It's a low-cost, low-tech solution that is within our reach."

In addition to the vitamin A, Vitamin Angels also gives the children an anti-parasitic to improve absorption of the vitamin A and help combat malnutrition.

Vitamin Angels has been working for three years on a similar program in India funded by Johnson and Johnson that has had impressive success, currently aiding one million children, lactating mothers and their babies. Now, the global initiative will focus specifically on providing vitamin A supplements to the tens of millions of children living in extreme poverty around the world who are at risk.

"We're proving that vitamins work, period. They're effective, the results are dramatic and they are a clear solution to major global health problems," says Schiffer. "It's hard to debate the benefits of vitamins when we are literally seeing the difference everyday."

The one-time cost to prevent a single child from going blind due to VAD is $1. This covers the cost of two high-dose vitamin A capsules, the anti-parasitic, all transportation, shipping, administration, as well as the education program for a child's first four years when they are most vulnerable to VAD.

Last year, Vitamin Angels donated more than 100 million supplements to people in need in 40 countries around the world. For more information about Operation 20/20 and how to help go to: http://www.VitaminAngels.org.

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