Effort To Eradicate Guinea Worm Disease Enters ‘Most Difficult’ Phase

The Carter Center in the United States says that only 13 human cases of Guinea worm disease were reported worldwide in 2022.

Adam Weiss, director of The Carter Center’s Guinea Worm Eradication Program cautioned the end phase of the global effort to eradicate the parasitic disease will be “the most difficult” after decades of progress.

The 13 cases, which happened in four countries in sub-Saharan Africa, were reported on Tuesday January 24 by the Atlanta-based center, which was established by former US President Jimmy Carter and his wife Eleanor Rosalynn Carter.

Chad reported six human cases, South Sudan reported five, Ethiopia one, and the Central African Republic one, which is still under investigation.

This represents a remarkable decline from 1986, when 3.5 million people were afflicted and former President Carter, then 98, started leading the global eradication effort.
The tentative numbers are anticipated to be verified in the coming months

Guinea Worm Disease

“We are truly in the midst of that last mile and experiencing firsthand that it is going to be a very long and arduous last mile,” Adam Weiss said.
“Not so much as it taking more than the next seven years – five to seven years – but just knowing that it’s going to be a slow roll to get to zero”, he added.

Training people to filter and drink clean water can help prevent guinea worm, which affects some of the most vulnerable people in the world.

Drinking contaminated water exposes people to parasites that can reach lengths of up to one meter. Before painfully emerging through the feet or other delicate body parts, the worm can spend up to a year incubating inside of people.

Guinea Worm Disease

According to Weiss, local insecurity including conflict, is a problem in the populations where Guinea worm is still present. This makes it difficult for staff members and volunteers to visit homes to carry out interventions or provide assistance.

“If we take our foot off of the gas in terms of trying to accelerate getting to zero and providing support to those communities, there’s no question that you’re going to see a surge in Guinea worm. We’re continuing to make progress, even if it is not as fast as we all want it to be, but that progress continues “Weiss said.

Guinea Worm Disease

According to The Carter Center, Guinea worm is on track to become the second human disease to be eradicated after smallpox.

Author-Roberta Appiah

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