General News of Thursday, 29 January 2015
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and The Carter Center have congratulated Ghana for eliminating Guinea worm (Dracunculus medinensis).
The WHO’s International Commission for the Certification of Dracunculiasis Eradication, in consultation with Ghana’s Ministry of Health, sent a certification team to Ghana in July 2014 to assess whether transmission of the disease continued or whether it was interrupted for three or more years after the last indigenous case was reported.
On Jan. 14, 2015, WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan provided Ghana with official notification that WHO has certified Ghana as Guinea worm-free.
These were contained in a release issued by the Cater Centre and copied to the Ghana News Agency on Monday.
“Ghana’s triumph over Guinea worm disease serves as a reminder to the world and the remaining endemic countries that the greatest challenges can be overcome with hard work, political commitment, and the support of the international community,” Carter, Founder of The Carter Center, noted.
Carter recalled seeing his first case of Guinea worm disease in Denkyira a village near the Ghanaian capital of Accra in March 1988.
The Carter Center began leading the international Guinea worm eradication campaign in 1986. The following year, Ghana became one of the Carter Center Guinea Worm Eradication Program’s first country partners.
Nearly 180,000 cases of Guinea worm disease were reported during the county’s first national case search in 1989. This ranked Ghana second in the world in cases at the time.
Strong partnerships throughout the campaign helped the nation overcome many challenges and setbacks, including a massive Guinea worm outbreak in Savelugu town in 2007. As a result of redoubled program efforts and reaffirmed national and international commitments, cases were reduced the following year by 85 percent, the greatest single-year reduction of any moderately endemic country in the history of the campaign.
In May 2010, Ghana reported and contained its last indigenous case, indicating that the disease cycle had been broken after a 22-year (1988-2010) nationwide battle.
Today, Guinea worm disease remains endemic in pockets of South Sudan, Mali, Chad, and Ethiopia.