Jimmy Carter’s Greatest Victory: Guinea Worm on Verge of Extinction

The guinea worm may be the second major human disease after small pox to be completely eradicated. It is a parasite that you get from drinking water with small fleas in it. The larvae of the worm are in the fleas, and they migrate into your muscles. After growing there for a year, as a long thread gathered in a bump, the worm works its way out over two or three days, which is extremely painful. The disease mainly existed in Central Africa, and especially in South Sudan.


h/t Waterlink

In some countries, such as Nigeria, no new cases have been reported for a couple of years.

As I understand the story, after he left the White House, Jimmy Carter did a lot of traveling for his foundation. He saw those suffering from the guinea worm, and asked what could be done about it. The flea that carries the larvae is big enough so that even just filtering water through cloth would get rid of it. From 1986, Carter put together a coalition of the World Health Organization and health ministries in the afflicted countries (which then included Pakistan) to get the word out to people about the need for water filtration. He even at one point in the mid-1990s helped negotiate a ceasefire between the north and the south in Sudan so that his activists could reach affected villagers and teach them how to filter the water.

The Garter Center thus spearheaded this effort, though it became an international movement with many participants.

Carter has proven what a determined person can accomplish through single-minded purpose driven by compassion, and the pursuit of strategic partnerships and cooperation. Carter has given the world a model that should be deployed to solve other pressing problems. He is one of the world’s few true heroes.

10 Responses

  1. Yet another reason why Jimmy Carter is the greatest former President this nation has ever known.

  2. I was told by an M.D. PhD epidemiologist employed by the World Health Organization that the origin of the medical symbol “The Staff of Asclepius” (the AMA symbol that has the snake spiraling the staff) likely came from this very problem. It represents rolling a stick to apply slow tension while pulling out the parasite.
    Said WHO physician was mostly involved in working up a plan to eradicate Schistosomiasis, also known as bilharzia, and also known as snail fever, a big, big problem in the Nile River and environs. (120+ million affected) Carter truly is a hero in every sense of the world. See:
    link to cartercenter.org

  3. I completely agree with you, Carter is a hero, someone who sacrifices his wellbeing to bring succour to those in need. The Master said: ‘Take your brothers’ need as the measure for your action and solve the problems of the world’.

  4. Oh, that’s nothing. Dick Cheney and his neo-con handlers eradicated several nations, and the debt they created is about to eradicate civilization.

  5. I would agree that Carter has done more since leaving office than any other past American president.

    I believe he deserved a Nobel Peace Prize as president for his role in negotiating the Camp David Accords not to mention his criticism of South American governments on the use of torture.

    He has been a stern critic of Israel for punishing the Gazan populace due to their election of Hamas representatives as their lawful government.

    Jimmy Carter has been an exemplary world citizen and this is another fine example of public good he is responsible for.

  6. He’s an outstanding person .

    Imagine, eliminating a disease from an entire continent. And that’s not his only good work.

    It is one of the most remarkable accomplishments in many years.

  7. There’s a scene in Oliver Stone’s movie “Nixon” that haunts me. Nixon goes to the Lincoln Monument to confront antiwar demonstrators (true incident) and tries to spout politician gibberish to explain why he’s kept the war going all this time. A girl confronts him with a look of horror, and says, “You really can’t stop it, can you? You’re not really the one in charge.”

    Looking at what Carter was able to accomplish in and out of office, and the mugging of every president who’s even briefly tried to blow against the wind of plutocracy and empire, we have to wonder, can the office of the presidency really do any good any more?

  8. Also see “The Last Worm” in the current issue of Scientific American, July 2012, p 24.

    In 1986, there were 3.5 million cases of Guinea worm infection. Thus far this year, there have been only 5 know cases.

  9. Hooray for the steady progress that his engineering trained mine and deep religious biliefs in human relief has prevailed.

    Can we now consider the story of the Mosquito born diseases such as west nile and malaria?

  10. Always liked President Carter, he was a good man, unlike the majority in the Legislature these days.

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