Guinea worm wrap-up ; # 124, June 28, 2002
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  • English

  • Details:

    • Journal Article:
      Guinea worm wrap-up
    • Description:
      During the last 10 years national Guinea Worm Eradication Programs (GWEP) outside of Sudan have steadily reduced the incidence of Guinea worm disease – in 2001 only 14,246 cases were reported from 12 endemic countries. Because at this end-stage of the campaign outside of Sudan we must find ways to improve the effectiveness of containment of transmission from patients with the disease, a year ago we published an editorial (see Guinea Worm Wrap-Up #113, June 2001, pp 2-4) outlining compelling biological, epidemiological, operational, and economic arguments for doing so. This editorial is another call to ministry of health authorities in endemic countries to encourage the primary health care system to provide medical care for as many patients as possible, particularly during the first 4 –7 days after the Guinea worm begins to emerge, and to simultaneously encourage patients with Guinea worm disease to seek care before or within 24 hours of the emergence of the worm.

      The advantage to patients is that proper medical care can reduce the severity and duration of their illness, allowing them to return to work or school sooner. The advantage to the GWEPs is that ensuring that patients receive such care early will prevent patients from contaminating water sources and thus effectively stopping transmission of their infections to others, which is the objective of this campaign and which needs to attained soon and with urgency. Just as GWEPs cannot themselves provide safe drinking water sources to endemic communities, but rather advocate for provision of such services by others, the role of GWEPs should be to get the country’s primary health care system and other sources such as clinics staffed by non-governmental organizations to treat and help isolate persons with dracunculiasis.

      Physical isolation of infected individuals to prevent their infection from spreading to other persons is a proven public health principle of long standing, which could escalate the struggle to STOP TRANSMISSION NOW. To be effective, programs must ensure that Guinea worm patients enter into such care voluntarily, as early as possible (preferably just before the worms begin to emerge), for as long as necessary, and that such services reach as many Guinea worm patients as possible.

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