According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, Offor, 56, made the announcement of the donation at a ceremony in Atlanta on Friday. The gift is the largest the Carter Center has ever received from an African donor.
River blindness, also known as onchocerciasis, is a tropical disease caused by the parasitic worm Onchocerca volvulus. According to the World Health Organization, it is transmitted to humans through exposure to repeated bites of infected blackflies of the genus Similium. Nigeria currently has about 40% of the world’s cases.
River blindness is found in 30 African countries, in regions of six countries in the Americas, and Yemen. Most infected persons are in Africa, and the disease is found most frequently in rural agricultural villages that are located near rapidly flowing streams. AFP PHOTO / ISSOUF SANOGO (Photo credit should read ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images)
At the ceremony founder of the Carter Center, former U.S President Jimmy Carter, said that with Offor’s gift, the Carter Center could make significant inroads towards ridding Nigeria of the disease and putting river blindness on course for global eradication.
Offor said his donation would be channeled into training health workers and education campaigns about river blindness on Nigerian media.
“We are going to employ every available means to eradicate this disease,” Offor said, while describing the Friday event as a high point in his life.
Offor is the founder and Executive Vice Chairman of Chrome Group, a Nigerian conglomerate with interests in oil trading, biofuels, insurance, dredging and logistics. He is a prominent philanthropist and has given millions to causes in education and health. In 2013, he donated $1 million to PolioPlus, an international polio eradication programme promoted by Rotary International, and he has reportedly donated an estimated $18 million worth of books and computers to African schools through his Sir Emeka Offor Foundation since 2010.
The Carter Center is a nonprofit public policy centerfounded in 1982 by Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter to fight disease, hunger, poverty, conflict, and oppression around the world.