The Pfizer-Orbis relationship dates back to 1979, three years before Orbis's first sight-saving flight, when Pfizer began supporting Orbis through cash grants and donations of medical supplies.

In 2000, recognizing the widespread scope of the blindness-causing trachoma pandemic in Ethiopia, Pfizer donated the first of three $75,000 annual grants to fund an Orbis-led trachoma management study in Ethiopia.

Trachoma, a bacterial disease that can lead to blindness if untreated, thrives in rural areas where people have little access to fresh water or basic health care.

The Pfizer-funded study researched the effectiveness of different treatments and laid the groundwork for the launch in 2003 of an ongoing trachoma reduction project in southern Ethiopia. Implemented by Orbis, the project is based on the World Health Organization’s SAFE strategy — an acronym for “Surgery,” “Antibiotics”, “Face Washing” and “Environmental Change.” As the lead donor of this effort, Pfizer has donated more than $100 million worth of Zithromax, an antibiotic effective in treating and preventing trachoma, through the International Trachoma Initiative.

Pfizer and Orbis are currently developing plans to significantly expand the program to other areas of Ethiopia over the next five years.