OAK BROOK, Illinois, USA, June 22, 2015 – During the 68th World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, the Delegation of the People’s Republic of China shared the findings of the trachoma assessment, and concluded that this blinding disease does not represent a public health threat.
“This declaration by the Chinese government is a significant victory for the Chinese people and Lions Clubs International. Trachoma is a disease that flourishes in economically marginalized areas. The announcement is, therefore, a testament to the strides the Chinese government has made to improve the health and welfare of its people. As a Lion, I am proud that we were able to play an important role in helping China to verify this milestone, and I look forward to our supporting the Chinese eye care system in the future,” said Wing-Kun Tam, Past International President and Executive Chairman of SightFirst China Action, Lions Clubs International.
Lions and Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) were instrumental in the key assessment and surveillance activities that helped China officially eliminate blinding trachoma as a public health threat. When the partnership with the Chinese government started in 2010, estimates suggested that over 350 million people lived in suspected endemic areas.
Trachoma, the leading cause of preventable blindness, is one of the oldest known infectious diseases. Children and women are most susceptible to the disease, which often occurs in clusters, infecting entire families and communities for generations.
China has benefitted from a long period of financial prosperity, societal changes, improvement of living standards, and enhanced access to health services. In order to evaluate if there were still areas of the country where blindness from trachoma might still constitute a risk of public health relevance, LCIF funded a multi-year assessment of the trachoma situation in China as recommended by WHA resolution 51.11. Local ophthalmologists were trained by the World Health Organization (WHO) to implement a field effort to assess areas known or suspected to be at high-risk for having blindness from trachoma. The Lions of Hong Kong/Macau and China helped coordinate the work with the Chinese government and the WHO, supported the field work, and contributed to raising public awareness of the activities being carried out.
LCIF has supported projects that improve the eye care system in China since 1999. As part of its SightFirst China Action program, LCIF has donated over US$30 million to strengthen the national eye care infrastructure and increase access to vision care, including funding for surgeries, hospitals and training. The assessment on the status of blindness from trachoma as a public health problem in China demonstrated what can be accomplished when governments, volunteers and international organizations cooperate to eliminate preventable causes of blindness.
About Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF)
Lions Clubs International Foundation is the grant-making body of Lions Clubs International, the world’s largest volunteer service club organization. The LCIF SightFirst program, Lions’ flagship initiative, builds comprehensive eye care systems to fight the major causes of blindness and care for blind and visually impaired persons. Since 1990, the SightFirst program has helped restore sight to more than 30 million people around the world. Lions have raised more than $415 million to provide surgeries, to improve of hundreds of eye care facilities and train of thousands of eye care professionals. For more information, visit www.lcif.org.
Heading to Honolulu this week for the 98th Lions Clubs International Convention? Don’t forget that planning and researching before you leave is the most important part of a safe and successful trip. Remember these travel tips as you get ready:
See you in Honolulu!
Lions Clubs International’s 98th International Convention is only one week away!
Between dancing at the Leo Luau and marching in the Parade of Nations, be sure to swing by the Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) booth in the convention hall! LCIF staff will be on hand help you make donations, purchase your pins, and answer your questions about various LCIF grants and programs.
Showcasing our partnership with Special Olympics, there will be a Special Olympics bocce ball tournament on Friday, June 26, beginning at 10 a.m, in theHawaii Convention Center. You won’t want to miss this tournament! Special Olympics Hawaii athletes will display their skills in a series of live bocce ball matches. The Unified Sports© program is the Special Olympics inclusive sports model that brings athletes with and without intellectual disabilities together—both on and off the playing field. Lions and Leos have the opportunity to participate and volunteer. Stop by and learn more about the partnership and how Lions can get involved with Special Olympics chapters in their regions. LCIF Chairperson Barry Palmer will make an appearance at the event and speak on behalf of LCIF.
To learn more about how LCIF is helping clubs to make an even greater impact around the world, plan to attend the Second Plenary Session on Monday, June 29, at 9:30 a.m. The Second Plenary will feature Hawaiian entertainment, an overview of LCIF and more! The session will be interpreted in Chinese, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese and Spanish, and free digital radio translation units will be available at the Translation booth.
Of course, these are just a few of the exciting events taking place during the 98th International Convention in Honolulu, and we can’t wait to see you there!
Last week, I spent a few busy days in Colombia visiting with Lions and Leos. There was just so much to do and see — the Lions there are doing such a great job reaching out to their community! After attending the Opening Session at their Lions convention, I visited a project run by the Club Leones Antonio Narino. For the past 52 years, the Lions have been operating this project — a two-story building that provides food and health care to low income elderly and children. The facility has oscular specialist, a full dental clinic and several general medical doctors. I was also able to visit two LCIF-supported eye care facilities.
The Lions in Colombia value family involvement, and their Leo club program is one of the largest I’ve seen. I got a chance to bring in new Cubs, new Leos and new members into the Colombia Lions family, as well as charter a Campus Lions club that serves wounded soldiers.
Next up is the Lions International Convention in Honolulu! I can’t believe it’s already been a year since the last convention. I hope to see you all there!
Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) is proud to partner with Special Olympics. The partnership began in 2001 and was meant to provide vision screenings to athletes at Special Olympics sporting events. Since then, the partnership have evolved and expanded.
Recently, Past International President and Past LCIF Chairperson Clem Kusiak represented LCIF at the Special Olympics Unified Relay Across America in Washington, D.C. This relay brings the Special Olympics Flame of Hope to each of the 48 continental United States. The three legs of the relay will meet in Los Angeles to kick off the Special Olympics World Games on July 25.
PIP Kusiak noted that passing the torch was symbolic of “giving support on behalf of 6,000 Lions clubs and more than 1.4 million members in 207 countries.”
The newest piece of this exciting partnership is Mission: Inclusion, which brings unified sports to Leos and Special Olympics athletes around the world. Mission: Inclusion is dedicated to promoting social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences. Unified Sports joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding.
Our Special Olympics partnership provides free vision screenings at select Special Olympics sporting events worldwide, but that’s just the beginning. Athletes also receive diagnoses for vision-related problems, corrective and protective eyewear, and are taught how to take better care of their eyes.
A successful collaborative effort, the Special Olympics-Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes program relies on thousands of volunteer Lions, doctors, vision specialists and educators. More than 350,000 athletes have been screened, with prescription eyewear provided to 110,000 athletes. More than 20,000 volunteer eye care professionals have participated in the program. More than 20,000 Lions volunteers worldwide have offered their time and talents for this true team effort that has been active in more than 70 nations.
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