Jimmy Carter’s fight for guinea worm eradication in Ghana

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Former United States President Jimmy Carter, who is waging a war on Guinea worm in the world, on Tuesday expressed satisfaction with the acceleration of work by Ghana in the past year to reduce the debilitating disease.

“With continued diligence, dedication and political will, Ghana could be finally within reach of its long sought goal of recording zero cases of Guinea worm disease,” he said at a press conference in Accra during a follow-up visit to the West African country.

Ghana last year recorded a total of about 3,360 cases, which was described as the least ever since the disease was first reported in 1989. It has listed 195 cases for the first quarter of 2008, about 91 per cent down on the previous year’s figure.

Carter, after witnessing a horrific guinea worm outbreak in Savelugu in northern Ghana, when he visited the country last year, was visibly angry and expressed dissatisfaction with work to eradicate the disease from Ghana.

He said Ghana, currently ranked second to Sudan on the world list, needed to move from that position by working hard for the World Health Organisation (WHO) to declare the nation a guinea worm free country.

“Your neighbouring countries like Togo, Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Ethiopia have been declared guinea worm free and from here, we are going to these countries to give them certificates for being certified by WHO and that is what I want to see Ghana becoming in the next few years to come.”

A country is declared free after recording zero cases for three successive years.

Carter cautioned Ghana not be complacent and over confident with the praise from him but work extra hard, have disciplined volunteer corps and the political will to ensure its total eradication.

He commended Google.org for supporting the fight in Ghana with total grant of 1. 45 million dollars.

Retired Major Courage Quashigah, Minister of Health, attributed the progress to the collaboration of other ministries, departments and agencies.

“Initially, we all thought fighting guinea worm was a health problem but now that they have all come on board we are seeing improvement and we hope to achieve our goal by the 2009.” Panapress.

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