Carter Center’s work nearly eradicates painful disease

There were 13 cases of guinea worm in 2022, down from 3.5 million in 1986.
Published: Feb. 23, 2023 at 5:29 PM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - The Carter Center estimates that during its peak in the 1980′s, guinea worm afflicted more than 3.5 million people. After decades of work, numerous trips, and several efforts on the ground, there are 13 reported cases.

The World Health Organization expects that guinea worm will be the first disease ever eradicated without a vaccine or medicine.

Guinea worms can spread through contaminated water or uncooked fish. After about a year, when a female worm is fully grown, it emerges from the host’s skin, releasing more larvae, which can continue the cycle.

Adam Weiss, the Director of the Guinea Worm Eradication Program at The Carter Center, remembers a trip to a village in Ghana in 2008.

“Everything they’ve ever done is about people. They didn’t go for a photo-op. They really went to listen.” said Weiss.

The Center worked with communities to find solutions like a wearable, cost-effective water filter, which transformed the way that people could drink water.

“What he saw before anyone else was the synergy between peace and health,” said Weiss.

Carter famously said he wants to see the eradication of guinea worm during this lifetime.

“Not because he was thinking about his legacy and that it would be attached to his leadership and vision, but the people suffering from the disease,” said Weiss.

The World Health Organization is expecting the eradication of guinea worm this decade.