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.”

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Video: I Became a Lion Because…

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At the International Convention in Toronto this past July, we asked Lions from all over the world a simple question: Why did you become a Lion?

The response was huge — filled with stories of meeting Lions for the first time, the desire to serve local and global communities, and dreams of making a difference. Watch the video above to hear real answers from real Lions, and share your own story of why you became a Lion in the comments below!

For more videos of Lions sharing their stories, view the LCICon Videobooth Playlist.

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Preston’s Blog: Nourishing Children

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Here is a great video about the importance of nourishing children with nutritious foods, especially in their first 1,000 days — from a mother’s pregnancy to the child’s 2nd birthday. With the right nutrition, children can learn better and lead healthier lives.

This year, I’m encouraging Lions to serve children in their communities. Providing healthy meals to children is just one way your club can make a difference. Possible projects include implementing a school backpack program that brings kids home with books and healthy snacks, or donating food to families in need. Feeding projects also count toward our Centennial Service Challenge goal, in which Lions everywhere are working toward serving 100 million people by 2017.

Let’s make an impact!


Your International President,

Joe Preston

Be sure to follow me on Facebook to see more activities, projects and pictures from my trips around the world.

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Lions Clubs International - Ask One

Ask One Works!

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Just imagine if every Lion asked just one person to join their club…

That’s what Susan Dailey asked her club members to do with great results! As president of the McLeansville Lions Club in North Carolina, Susan encouraged each member to ask one person to the club’s monthly dinner meeting. Did it work? Absolutely!

Nine prospective members attended that evening — six are returning for another meeting and one has already filled out an application to join.

McLeansville Lions Club

According to Susan, her goal this year was to increase membership in her club by 10%, and says they are already well on their way to exceeding her goal.

Continue to encourage your members to invite a friend, a neighbor, or a relative to attend your next meeting. Start today…and Ask One!

Has your club invited new members this year? Send us your success stories and photos to

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Lions Clubs International Convention 2011

Leo Club Advisory Panel

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Nominations for the Leo Club Advisory Panel are due to International Headquarters by August 15!

The Leo Club Advisory Panel is comprised of two Leos and two Lions from each constitutional area and the continent of Africa. Panel members are ambassadors of the Leo Club Program in their regions. They act as representatives of the Leos and Lions in their constitutional areas, provide feedback and input on Leo-related issues, and support the Youth Programs Department in matters affecting Leos.

Nominate a voice for the Leos in your area, and join an ongoing conversation that works toward improving Leo clubs everywhere.


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Video: Share Your Lions Experience

Monday, May 6, 2013

Here’s your chance to share your Lions experiences and memories! We encourage you to share your Lions story by grabbing your smart phone and creating a short one-minute…

Video: Lions Rural Service Project

Friday, April 26, 2013

Lions in Malaysia recently held a Lions Rural Service Project, which benefited hundreds of local children and adults in villages around Serian. The services the Lions provided included…

Rap Video Finalist: Brussels Cooperation & Da Vinci Lions Clubs

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Lions Reading Action Program Rap Video Contest finalists have been announced! Above is the rap video created by the Brussels Cooperation & Da Vinci Lions Clubs. We…

Rap Video Finalist: Medan Fine Arts Lions Club

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Lions Reading Action Program Rap Video Contest finalists have been announced! Above is the rap video created by the Medan Fine Arts Lions Club. We’ll be featuring…