The progress towards Guinea Worm eradication has been swift and dramatic. In 1986, there were an estimated 3.5 million people suffering from the disease in 21 countries. By 2014, there were only 126 cases in four countries: Ethiopia, Chad, Mali and South Sudan. The work so far has brought Guinea Worm to the brink of extinction. There is no cure, vaccine or surgical procedure to treat Guinea Worm. The only way to halt the disease is by preventing people becoming infected in the first place.
The Carter Center, with support from the World Health Organisation, has successfully driven the Guinea Worm eradication effort since the 1980s. Promoting simple health messages to vulnerable populations so they can avoid infection has been highly effective in reducing the disease.
This work is complemented by a broad village volunteer surveillance system to detect and contain all cases, together with filter distributions, chemical treatment of unsafe water sources and provision of safe water sources. These efforts bring basic health care and attention to the world’s most isolated and marginalised communities, in a cause that will benefit all humanity.