Global health news: guinea worm disease may soon join smallpox in the history books as worldwide cases dwindle

Guinea worm disease may soon be the second disease to be eliminated from the world after smallpox, Donald Hopkins, vice president for health programs at The Carter Center, told an HSPH audience on February 1. Hopkins, presenting this year’s annual Yerby Diversity Lecture in Public Health, described efforts by The Carter Center to eradicate guinea worm disease by reaching out to afflicted communities. Guinea worm, a painful condition caused by ingesting parasites from contaminated water, affected more than 3.5 million people in 20 countries in 1986. Thanks to decades-long efforts that encouraged communities to play an active role in their own health, cases were reduced last year to just 1,800 in four nations, most in Sudan.

“Outsiders cannot save people suffering from problems such as these without the participation of the people suffering from the disease,” Hopkins said.

Link to Harvard Gazette article

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Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases

Yerby Diversity Lecture in Public Health