River blindness, also known as onchocerciasis, has endangered Guatemalan’s eyesight since at least 1915. Last month, however, just over a century after the country’s first onchocerciasis diagnosis, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the disease officially eliminated from the Land of Eternal Spring.

Did you know that every minute, a child goes blind? Or that 80 percent of global blindness is preventable? This October 13 is World Sight Day, a day established to shed light on the impact of blindness and to raise awareness around the steps we can take to prevent it.

During my many years as a diplomat, I saw firsthand how the power of collective action can be extraordinarily important in shaping momentous changes. A few examples include: the creation of the PEPFAR program to combat HIV/AIDS, the accelerated response to terrorism following the East African embassy bombings, effective international coordination to tackle the SARS and avian flu threats, and the constructive collaboration between the United States and Vietnam on the issue of Agent Orange.

Last year, the leaders of some of the wealthiest nations pledged help control and eliminate the most common neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) by 2020.

This article was originally posted on the DSW Blog.

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