Campus News

May 2, 2011

Report From: The Carter Center

Record progress in fight against tropical diseases

This mother and child are among the first in Nigeria to receive treatment for trachoma through a partnership between The Carter Center and the Nigerian Ministry of Health. (Photo courtesy of The Carter Center/E. Cromwell)

Paige Rohe is media relations coordinator for The Carter Center.

Since 1986, The Carter Center has been a leader in the control, elimination and eradication of neglected diseases, working at the grassroots in partnership with ministries of health and low-resource communities to conduct health education and mass drug administration, and to develop health service infrastructure.

The Center's 10 health programs are data-driven and seek to help fill gaps in health care, looking for opportunities to eliminate or eradicate diseases wherever possible, and to control diseases that cannot be completely eliminated. 

Since the Center was awarded the Gates Award for Global Health in 2006, even more progress has been made fighting disease in the world's most forgotten places, among the world's poorest people. 

Most recently, The Carter Center's health programs announced they had enabled 35.8 million treatments, in 2010 alone, to protect against neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in thousands of communities in Africa and the Americas.

"For more than two decades, Carter Center health programs have helped partner countries deliver millions of treatments and cost-effective interventions to make the greatest impact – either the total elimination of a disease or a focus on highly endemic areas where the problems are worst," said Donald Hopkins, vice president for health programs at The Carter Center.

This all-time record achievement was recognized at Carter Center headquarters in March following nearly three weeks of intensive annual programs peer reviews and evaluation conducted by The Carter Center, ministries of health from 14 countries in Africa and the Americas, and other partner organizations.

As a pioneer in NTD implementation, research and impact, the Center has enabled the delivery of approximately 219 million cumulative treatments since 1996 to combat four preventable diseases—river blindness, trachoma, lymphatic filariasis and schistosomiasis—in six Latin American and seven African countries, including Nigeria which is the most endemic African country for river blindness, schistosomiasis and lymphatic filariasis, and Ethiopia, which is the most endemic African country for trachoma.

"We don't just rely on increased treatment numbers to tell us our efforts are working to improve health. The Carter Center uses evidence-based practices to carefully evaluate whether our interventions are significantly reducing the burden of disease, and we're constantly working to ensure they do," said Hopkins.

2010 Carter Center highlights in the fight against neglected disease

• The Carter Center-led campaign to wipe out Guinea worm disease (dracunculiasis) recently celebrated Nigeria and Niger's elimination. Ghana will be the next to stop transmission. The campaign began in 1986 in 20 countries. Today, important progress has been made in the remaining endemic countries of Sudan, Mali and Ethiopia to make Guinea worm the second disease to be eradicated in human history.

Ecuador joined Colombia as one of only two countries in history to halt transmission of river blindness (onchocerciasis) through health education and semiannual mass distribution of Mectizan. Only five of 13 original areas are believed to remain endemic in the campaign to eliminate this disease from the Western Hemisphere by 2015. 

Nigeria—the third most lymphatic filariasis-endemic country in the world—demonstrated that elimination of the debilitating disease is possible when it announced that one-third of districts in two states in Nigeria halted transmission and another one-third are about to.  

• For the first time in Ethiopia, the world's most trachoma-endemic area, more than 9 million treatments—covering half the population in Amhara, the highest endemic region in the country—were delivered during the fifth, semiannual, weeklong mass drug administration.  Since 2008, this health education and treatment campaign has pioneered the integration of malaria and trachoma control, allowing health workers to devote more effort during the rest of the year to target other interventions. In another milestone in 2010, trachoma control efforts were expanded in Nigeria with the distribution of the first Zithromax treatment in the country's history.  

• In Sudan in 2010, the vast and isolated desert community of Abu Hamad was on the verge of proving that river blindness can be eliminated in Africa with currently available tools.

• The Carter Center is one of the few organizations assisting the Nigerian Ministry of Health to tackle schistosomiasis—a debilitating and preventable disease mainly impacting children—in Nigeria, the most endemic country in Africa.  In 2010, more than 1.3 million praziquantel treatments were delivered.

• The Carter Center's International Task Force for Disease Eradication, recently reported that blinding trachoma can be eliminated through the SAFE strategy for trachoma control by 2020, provided interventions are intensified soon.

For more information on The Carter Center's work against neglected diseases, please visit, follow the Center on Twitter, or find the Center on Facebook.

File Options

  • Print Icon Print