Delivering Merck River Blindness Medicine

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“George W. Merck believed that medicine should be for the people, not for the profits. As a company, Merck continually strives to live up to this challenge. This is why we are proud to partner with Lions Clubs International Foundation through the MECTIZAN Donation Program, fighting river blindness in Africa and Latin America. LCIF is a trusted partner in this groundbreaking program, and their commitment ensures that patients in even the most remote areas are able to receive the best available treatment.” –Kenneth M. Gustavsen, Manager, Global Product Donations, Merck & Co., Inc.

Providing the medicine that will stop river blindness

Onchocerciasis, or “river blindness,” is one of the leading causes of preventable blindness worldwide. It is transmitted by a fly that infects people with a parasite that spreads throughout the body, eventually causing blindness. A total of 120 million people are at risk for the disease and half a million are already blind from it, primarily in Africa and rural Central and South America.

For more than 20 years Merck & Co., Inc., one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, has been helping to eradicate river blindness through the donation of Mectizan®—the only well-tolerated drug known to halt the development of the disease. Merck has worked with numerous partners to reach the people who need treatment, including involving the World Health Organization, the World Bank, UNICEF, The Carter Center, various ministries of health, non-governmental development organizations and local communities.

153 million treatments so far, with many more to come

One of Merck’s strongest allies has been Lions and Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF). To date, Merck has donated just over 153 million treatments of Mectizan® to LCIF, making the program the longest-running medicine donation commitment in history. Not only have so many people been spared from this debilitating disease, but river blindness is on its way to being an affliction of the past; two Latin American countries—Colombia and Ecuador—have announced its complete eradication, and more countries are to follow. Merck and LCIF remain committed to this goal until it is achieved.

“Colombia’s successful effort in halting onchocerciasis transmission is a landmark achievement in public health,” said Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Founder of The Carter Center. “This remarkable progress would not be possible without the dedicated health workers and volunteers working at the community level and the invaluable public-private partnership with Merck and the Mectizan® Donation Program.”

From LCIF: Our Impact Story Archives

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Lions Continues Historic Partnership with United Nations

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Lions and the United Nations share a partnership that goes back seventy years. Lions Clubs International continued this tradition by hosting its 37th annual Lions Day with the United Nations at the U.N. Headquarters in New York City on March 7th.

Nearly 500 Lions, including International President Joe Preston, traveled from over 30 countries to New York to meet with U.N. leaders for the day-long summit. This year’s theme of Children in Need focused Lions and U.N. leaders on issues affecting youth around the world.

“Lions have worked alongside the United Nations to promote the health, safety and well-being of people around the world,” said Lions Clubs International President Joe Preston. “I’m happy that we can come together once again to discuss solutions to the challenges we’ll face as we work toward a brighter future.

Lions were also joined by more than 20 U.N. ambassadors, including the Honorable Macharia Kamau of Kenya. “I have worked with UNICEF around the world, and everywhere and every time we work, there are Lions,” said Ambassador Kamau. “The work Lions do, the effort that comes together to transform the lives of people around the world, particularly the most vulnerable, is wonderful.”

10484925_10153060062667492_3786986520916686152_oHighlights from the Lions Day with the United Nations included:

Lions’ collaboration with the United Nations dates back to 1945 when Lion leaders were asked to help develop the non-governmental charter for the U.N. Since then, Lions have collaborated on many successful humanitarian ventures, including the Sight First program, which has helped restore sight, prevent blindness and provide vision services to millions of people worldwide.10869631_10153060059172492_7012726181660127304_o

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How to Apply for an LCIF Standard Grant

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Your Lions district or multiple district is making an impact in your community every day. Did you know that a Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) standard grant can help extend your reach if there is a need for construction or major equipment in your community?

Standard grants provide matching capital funds from US$10,0000 to US$100,000 for equipment and infrastructure needs, and are the most common type of grant awarded by LCIF. Typical projects include mobile health units, hospices, nursing homes, medical units, homes for street children, blind and disabled centers, eye clinics, guide dog facilities and schools in developing countries. If your district or multiple district has identified a large-scale humanitarian project, learn How to Apply for an LCIF Standard Grant.



Then submit your Standard Grant Application. Remember, the LCIF Board of Trustees reviews all eligible standard grant applications three times per year. Applications must be received at least 60 days prior to the scheduled board meeting and meet all criteria to be considered. Applications are due by April 29, 2015 for review at the June 2015 Board meeting.

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Delivering Supplies

LCIF Provides Emergency/Disaster Relief Grants in February 2015

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When natural disasters strike, Lions are there to offer help and support. In times of need, Lions are able to rely on disaster relief grants and funds from Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF).

In February 2015, LCIF provided 7 emergency and disaster relief grants totaling US$65,000.

These grants are addressing immediate needs in:

Turkey, District 118-E
$10,000 for flood relief

Philippines, District 301-B2
$5,000 for typhoon relief

California, USA, District 4-L1
$10,000 for fire relief

Indonesia, District 307-B1
$10,000 for flood relief

Indonesia, District 307-A1
$10,000 for flood relief

Albania, District UND
$10,000 for flood relief

Madagascar, District 403-B2
$10,000 for cyclone relief

*Emergency grants listed by date approved.

Emergency Grants provide up to US$10,000 for districts impacted by a natural disaster that has affected at least 100 people, including tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and tsunamis. Lions district governors may apply for disaster relief funds to help meet immediate needs such as food, water, clothing and medical supplies. LCIF typically awards more than US$2 million in Emergency Grant funding each year.


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Read the March LION Magazine

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In the March Lion Magazine: Nineteen years after a highway tragedy, Lions in California continue to send truckloads of goods to Navajos in New Mexico. Read about how this project has touched lives in an area where four out of 10 Navajos are unemployed. Also, get the inside scoop on the Hawaii convention with Lion Robert K. Y. Lee, Host Committee chair.

Also in this issue:

In the Digital LION, watch a video of pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who became a national hero when he landed his struggling plane in the Hudson River in 2009, saving everyone aboard. Sullenberger delivered the keynote speech at the 93rd International Convention in 2010. Also, read LION stories from the archives on how the iPhone and other inventions changed the lives of the blind.

Visit the LION Magazine page to contact editors, view past issues and listen to the audio version of the magazine.

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LQ: Restoring the Wetlands

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The October Lions Quarterly (LQ) issue is now available for viewing on the Lions News Network (LNN) or the Lions YouTube channel. The LQ segment above features Lions…

Lions Clubs International

Follow Your Dream Children’s Video Project

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Literacy and education play a huge role in children’s ability to follow their dreams. Yet 61 million primary school age children around the world are not able to…

Palmer’s Blog: The Hart Walker

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Lions: Hello from Australia! I’m here in Port Douglas for the Lions International Board of Directors meeting, and I just wanted to drop in and share an image,…

LQ: Lions Save Lives in Hawaii

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The beaches in Hawaii are beautiful, but strong currents can also make them dangerous — especially for visitors who are not aware that although the waters may seem…