P. WITHERS director of program support with Global
2000, projects that within a year or two, all countries except
Sudan will be free of the disease. War-torn Sudan, where 73 percent
of the remaining cases of Guinea worm can be found, is the greatest
challenge to eradication.
to prevent the spread of Guinea worm are straight-forward: keep
people with an emerging worm from entering any water source,
boil cooking and drinking water, and use nylon filters that
strain out the fleas. Standing water can be treated with chemicals
that kill the fleas. But the worm has formidable allies: poverty,
a lack of clean water, and age-old superstitions.
went to a village where their only water source was in a giant
crater, and there was an old woman at the bottom of the puddle
with a Guinea worm hanging off her foot, says Philip W.
Downs, a Rollins School of Public Health graduate student who
has traveled to Africa with Global 2000. Some of our local
workers in the village say, The old people dont
listen to us, they say its sorcery or something else.
workers see a Guinea worm emerging, they can demonstrate to
the villagers what happens when the victim puts his foot in
a bucket of water. Theyll see the worm stiffen and
shoot out a cloud of eggs, Downs says. Then a light
comes on and people understand.
workers and volunteers explain the process through drawings
and plays they perform in the local dialect. They visit villages
to check for new cases, bandage blisters, and distribute large,
round water filters, one per household, that fit over the tops
latest weapon in Global 2000s arsenal is a pipe filter,
a hard plastic straw with a nylon filter over one end that people
can wear around their neck and sip drinking water through. The
Carter Center and its partnersHealth and Development International,
Hydro Polymers of Norsk Hydro, and Norwegian Church Aidhave
begun to blanket Sudan with nine million pipe filters .
President Jimmy Carter, who got involved in the eradication
effort after he and his wife visited villages in Ghana and saw
hundreds suffering from the disease, credits the nomadic Tuaregs
in the northwest of Africa with the idea of the pipe filters.
cloths have always been available, but it is not easy to distribute
them, Carter told reporters recently. And so what
the Tuaregs did was cut small pieces of filter cloths and tie
them on the end of a reed and they wore them around their neck.
The personal filters, made with PVC pipe, are assembled in Nairobi
by more than thirteen hundred local workers. The project costs
about a million dollars, with two hundred thousand dollars coming
from the Carter Center.
of the communities we visit greet us warmly, says Christopher
O. Duggar, student government president at Emorys Rollins
School of Public Health, who spent the summer in Niger, West
Africa, with Global 2000. It was not long ago when everyone
accepted Guinea worm as a way of life. Today the cases are becoming
more rare, and the villages are trying to help us finish this