May 21, 2014, 11:59 am
By The Carter Center
“Today, let us renew our resolve to ensure that 2014 is the last year the world reports cases of Guinea worm disease.” – Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter
In May, President Carter and World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan made remarks to an informal meeting of ministers of health of Guinea worm affected countries during the 67th World Health Assembly in Geneva.
The Carter Center leads the international effort to eradicate Guinea worm disease, which is set to become the second human disease in history, after smallpox, to be wiped out. In 2013, only 148 cases of Guinea worm were reported in four countries, all in Africa. It will be the first parasitic disease to be eradicated and the first disease to be eradicated without the use of a vaccine or medicine.
Guinea worm cases have been reduced by more than 99.9 percent mainly through community-based interventions to educate and change behavior, such as teaching people to filter all drinking water and preventing transmission by keeping anyone with an emerging worm from entering water sources.
“I urge the ministers of health of Chad, Ethiopia, Mali, and South Sudan to support your Guinea Worm Eradication Programs by: personally visiting an endemic village this year; starting in June, require a brief, monthly report to you on the status of your country’s program; and informing all residents about the need to report cases of Guinea worm disease immediately, highlighting the cash rewards for doing so. The international campaign only can succeed with your active support and encouragement of your Guinea Worm Eradication Program.” – President Carter
President Carter also announced that Vestergaard recently has extended their 2010 in-kind donation of the LifeStraw® Guinea worm cloth and pipe filters to the Carter Center’s Guinea Worm Eradication Program through 2016. Vestergaard has been a partner of the Center’s health programs since 1999. The filters are used to strain out the tiny copepods that carry infective Guinea worm larvae, helping to interrupt transmission of the disease.
Vestergaard’s continued support of Guinea worm eradication is a testament to the company’s enduring commitment to prevent suffering caused by devastating global health challenges that impact people in many of the world’s most neglected communities.