Guinea worm wrap-up ; # 186, January 12, 2009
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Guinea worm wrap-up ; # 186, January 12, 2009

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  • English

  • Details:

    • Journal Article:
      Guinea worm wrap-up
    • Description:

      “We, representing the Governments of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan, Togo and Uganda, WHO, UNICEF and The Carter Center, commit ourselves to intensifying implementation of eradication activities to free the world of dracunculiasis by the end of 2009.”

      The excerpt cited above is the essence of the “Geneva Declaration” that was adopted and signed by ministers of health and representatives from WHO, UNICEF and The Carter Center on May 19, 2004 during the 57th World Health Assembly. Three days later, the entire assembly adopted resolution WHA57.9, which recalled that only 12 countries were still endemic, and also called for the completion of eradication by 2009. That means there should be no more cases of dracunculiasis after December 31, 2009. Time is almost up. Eradication means ZERO cases.

      We have made good progress since May 2004. The world reported less than 5,000 cases of dracunculiasis for the first time ever in 2008, having reduced the number of cases by one-half from 2007, and by -69% from the 16,026 cases reported in 2004. WHO has already certified 180 countries as free of dracunculiasis. But we enter 2009 with six endemic countries and nearly 2,000 uncontained cases to worry about from 2008. By now, Sudan ought to have been our only concern.

      We have much to do in 2009. This year, each remaining endemic country must seek perfection everywhere and at all times, and avoid complacency. We expect even fewer than 5,000 cases in 2009, and we can predict about when and where those cases will occur. But no matter how many cases of dracunculiasis appear in the six countries this year because of programmatic failures in 2008, our goal must be to contain EVERY case in 2009. No exceptions. Every case should be contained, and its source explained. And in each case, failure to do either of those does not excuse failure to do the other. The issue is not how many cases will occur in 2009. There will be cases in at least 3 or 4 countries. The issue is that transmission from all cases occurring in 2009 should be prevented.

      Number of uncontained cases of dracunculiasis in 2008 (provisional): Sudan 1,817, Ghana 85, Mali 60, Ethiopia 9, Niger 1, Nigeria 0.

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