Operation Eyesight Universal

Operation Eyesight Universal

March 22, 2011 12:07 ET

Operation Eyesight Universal: Clean Water Can Eliminate Leading Cause of Preventable Blindness

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - March 22, 2011) - Operation Eyesight Universal, a Canada-based international development organization dedicated to eliminating avoidable blindness, will mark World Water Day 2011 today by continuing its efforts to eradicate trachoma in Africa.

In 2011, Operation Eyesight is actively seeking funding to support 20 new water wells in Zambia's Sinazongwe District, which will be drilled, equipped and monitored by the country's Ministry of Water Affairs. Operation Eyesight will look to establish another 13 waterpoints in Kenya's Narok District.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 884 million people or one in eight people worldwide do not get their water from improved or safe sources. Trachoma, an excruciating condition that thrives in places where people lack access to clean water and proper sanitation, is the world's leading cause of preventable blindness.

"Operation Eyesight's water source programs in Zambia and Kenya are fundamental to eliminating trachoma and lasting community development," says president and CEO Pat Ferguson. "In these rural drought-prone areas, safe, accessible water is the difference between surviving and thriving. It's key to good health, educational opportunities and agricultural improvements."

At the same time, the organization has fully implemented the WHO-endorsed SAFE strategy for eliminating trachoma:

  • Surgery to treat triachisis, a complication of trachoma (trichiasis is a medical term for abnormally positioned eyelashes that grow back toward the eye, touching the cornea or conjunctiva, which scars the cornea and leads to vision loss);
  • Antibiotics to eliminate infection;
  • Face-washing and hygiene education; and
  • Environmental changes, including water, wells and latrines.

While Operation Eyesight's main goal is to eradicate trachoma, access to clean water also plays a major role in helping reduce infant mortality, malaria, upper respiratory tract infections, diarrheal diseases, skin diseases and malnutrition. Villages with a safe source of drinking water have the potential to prosper—healthy adults are able to be productive and work to rise out of poverty and children can attend school instead of walking for kilometres to fetch water every day. 

World Water Day, celebrated annually on March 22, was designated by the United Nations in 1992 to focus attention on the world's water crisis and to implement solutions to address it. 

Operation Eyesight is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of avoidable blindness in parts of the developing world. It works with medical professionals and communities in Africa and India to help provide quality eye care programs and sustainable community development. Since 1963, through the support of its donors, millions of the world's poorest people have had their sight restored or protected. To learn more about Operation Eyesight's work, visit www.operationeyesight.com.

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