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Guinea worm wrap-up ; # 226, May 9, 2014
  • Published Date:
    May 9, 2014
  • Language:
    English
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  • Corporate Authors:
    WHO Collaborating Center for Research, Training and Eradication of Dracunculiasis. ; Emory University. Carter Center ; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S.)
  • Description:
    As the Guinea Worm Eradication Program nears its end, it is worthwhile to recall how it began. The global campaign to eradicate dracunculiasis (Guinea worm disease) was conceived and nurtured at CDC beginning in October 1980 by Dr. Donald Hopkins, Dr. Robert Kaiser, Dr. Myron Schultz and others, including Dr. Ernesto Ruiz Tiben, with the enthusiastic concurrence and support of CDC director Dr. William Foege. Originally promoted as a sub-objective of the International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade (IDWSSD; 1981- 1990), CDC persuaded Dr. Peter Bourne of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to champion the idea with the Steering Committee of the IDWSSD, which endorsed it in April 1981 and it was added to the World Health Assembly resolution on the IDWSSD the next month. Dr. Myron Schultz of CDC chaired the first international meeting on the disease, which was proposed by CDC and held in Washington, DC in 1982 under the auspices of the U.S. National Research Council, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and co-sponsored by WHO. India officially launched its national eradication program in 1983 after years of advocacy by Dr. M.I.D. Sharma. CDC was named the WHO Collaborating Center for Research, Training and Control of Dracunculiasis in 1984 (the name was changed to Eradication years later). Nigeria held its first National Conference on Dracunculiasis in 1985. In 1986 the World Health Assembly adopted its first resolution on Elimination of Dracunculiasis in May (with lobbying by Hopkins of CDC, a member of the United States’ delegation), and the First African Regional Conference on Dracunculiasis met in Niamey, Niger in July (funded mainly by a grant solicited by CDC from the Carnegie Corporation of New York; co-sponsored by WHO). The campaign accelerated greatly when former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and The Carter Center agreed to spearhead the initiative and launched direct assistance to begin the Guinea Worm Eradication Program in Pakistan with technical assistance by CDC in November 1986. Medical geographer Dr. Susan Watts estimated there were 3.5 million cases of dracunculiasis globally that year. Over the next decade President Carter made advocacy visits in support of Guinea worm eradication to 16 endemic countries. Hopkins retired from CDC and began leading the efforts at The Carter Center in 1987. The Carter Center began assisting national GWEPs in Ghana in 1987 and Nigeria in 1988, the year when African ministers of health adopted a resolution calling for the eradication of dracunculiasis by 1995. The Carter Center funded an International Donors Conference for Dracunculiasis Eradication which was co-sponsored by UNDP and UNICEF, in Lagos in 1989. The World Health Assembly adopted the first global resolution calling for Eradication of Dracunculiasis in 1991. The Carter Center began assisting national GWEPs in Uganda in 1991 and in Mali and Niger in 1992. Dr. Ernesto Ruiz-Tiben retired from CDC and joined The Carter Center in 1992. WHO established its unit for dracunculiasis eradication in August 1994. President Carter negotiated the “Guinea Worm Cease-fire” to kick- start the Sudan GWEP, with direct Carter Center assistance to both sides of the civil war, in March 1995. WHO established the International Commission for the Certification of Dracunculiasis Eradication in May 1995.

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