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37 Million and Counting
info from 37millionandcounting.com
Young Activists Plan to Film a Documentary in Tanzania to Combat a
Neglected Tropical Disease
NEW YORK, NY, April 18, 2007 - A small team has begun pre-production
and fundraising for a documentary film on the subject of African river
blindness, the world's second leading infectious cause of blindness.
They plan to travel to Tanzania this summer to discover why the
distribution of a free treatment is still leaving 37 million people
Merck & Co. created the Mectizan donation program in 1988, which
distributes a treatment for African river blindness (Onchocerciasis)
to anyone who needs it, anywhere, for free. Yet, in Africa, tens of
millions of people still suffer from the debilitating disease.
The parasitic worm enters the skin via a bite from a blackfly, where
it matures and breeds to number in the tens of thousands. While the
worms remain underneath the skin, intense itching, swelling and
inflammation occurs. Over a period of several years, the worms travel
to the eye where they swim around in the cornea, causing scarring and
damage, eventually leading to blindness.
Infected people can be treated once a year by taking the drug
ivermectin (Mectizan) , which not only eradicates itching, but keeps
the adult worms from producing offspring, preventing both morbidity
"There are so many ways to combat this terrible disease, yet so many
people still get infected every year, we want to find out why that is"
states Aaron Edell, award winning documentary film maker. "HIV/AIDS
and Malaria has garnered all the public attention, putting this
infectious disease on the 'Neglected Tropical Diseases' list, which is
something we want to change."
Edell has partnered with his fiancé Aimée Peck, who is a first year
medical student at Dartmouth Medical School, his father Dr. Dean Edell
who is an accomplished radio and television personality who reports on
health and medicine, and Dr. Rosalind Stevens who is a member of Orbis
International and a Cyber-Sight advisory board member.
More information can be found on their website at http://www.37millionandcounting.com