Former US president Jimmy Carter says US$ 100 million is needed to finally eradicate Guinea worm disease. The UK has pledged a third of this amount if other donors are prepared to cough up the rest.
Since the Carter Centre took up the cause in 1986, the disease has been reduced by more than 99 per cent. The majority of the remaining cases (98%) are from South Sudan, while Mali and Ethiopia have each reported less than 10 cases so far in 2011 and there was an isolated outbreak in Chad.
In 1995 Carter personally negotiated a six-month ceasefire between northern and southern Sudan, in a successful attempt to reach remote villages where Guinea worm disease was endemic.
Guinea worm disease (dracunculiasis or dracontiasis) can be prevented through heath education, the provision of cloth filters for drinking water and larvicides. The Carter Center’s goal is to stop transmission of the disease worldwide before 2015 and ensure World Health Organisation (WHO) certification within three years. This would make it the second human disease, after small pox, ever to be eradicated in human history.
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