UK aid to help finally eradicate Guinea worm

3 Feb 16

A £4.5m UK aid package will fund the “last push” in the eradication of Guinea worm, the country’s Department for International Development has declared.

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Former US president Jimmy Carter measuring a girl's height. Credit: The Carter Centre
Former US president Jimmy Carter measuring a girl's height. Credit: The Carter Centre

 

DFID will deliver the funds to former US president Jimmy Carter’s project, The Carter Centre, which has been leading global efforts to eradicate the disease since 1986. There are only a number of remaining affected villages in Africa and, if efforts are successful, Guinea worm will become just the second human disease to be eradicated in history.

UK international development minister Nick Hurd called the progress “one of the great public health success stories of modern times”.

The disease is caused by a parasite in infected drinking water, can reach up to a metre in length and eventually emerges through the skin, usually from the leg, causing intense pain and disability that can last for months.

“The new aid package from the UK will fund the last push to eradicate Guinea worm, supporting the treatment, prevention and education campaigns needed to finally consign this disease to the history books,” Hurd said.

If successful, Guinea worm will become just the second human disease to be eradicated in history. The UK’s funding will pay for health volunteers, water filters and larvicide in the few remaining endemic villages in South Sudan, Ethiopia, Chad and Mali.

It will also support surveillance campaigns in 6,000 villages across the four countries where Guinea worm remains, as well as education campaigns to ensure the disease doesn’t resurface.

When The Carter Centre began its campaign, there were an estimated 3.5 million cases annually in Africa and Asia. Last month, it announced that only 22 people worldwide had contracted the disease in 2015.

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