February 18, 2011, 4:12 pm
By The Carter Center
The Carter Center Awards for Guinea Worm Eradication were presented to Nigeria and Niger during a special ceremony held Feb. 17, 2011, in Atlanta, Ga.
The two countries, which share a border, join 14 other nations that have wiped out Guinea worm disease since The Carter Center spearheaded the international eradication campaign in 1986. Nigeria—formerly the most Guinea worm-endemic country in the world— and Niger both interrupted transmission in late 2008 and have reported zero indigenous cases for more than 12 months, the incubation period of the parasite.
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During the awards ceremony, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Carter Center Health Programs Vice President Donald R. Hopkins and Guinea Worm Eradication Program Director Ernesto Ruiz-Tiben presented representatives from Nigeria and Niger with hand-crafted mahogany and enamel statues representing this historic achievement.
An ancient and horrible affliction, Guinea worm disease is poised to become only the second disease to be eradicated from the earth, and the first without the use of vaccines or medicines, due to a 24-year international campaign led by The Carter Center. Three remaining countries are fighting the fewer than 1,800 cases of the disease.
Find out more about the disease and the progress of the eradication campaign at www.cartercenter.org/guinea-worm.