New funding bolsters global eradication of guinea-worm disease
Efforts by the World Health Organization (WHO) to eradicate dracunculiasis (guinea-worm disease) were boosted yesterday after the United Kingdom government announced a challenge grant of UK£ 20 million (approximately US$ 32 million) over the next four years to wipe out the disease. This pledge should encourage other donors to come forward and match the additional funding required.
Speaking at an international news conference in London, UK, WHO’s Director-General Margaret Chan urged countries where this “human misery” is still occurring to implement intensified surveillance in order to detect and contain the last remaining difficult-to-find cases. The new funding will enable WHO and its partners to assist countries in overcoming this "intolerable situation".
Former US President Jimmy Carter and British International Development Minister Stephen O'Brien noted the great strides towards eradication made since 1986 when The Carter Center joined the international campaign involving WHO, UNICEF and the US Centers for Disease Control to eliminate the disease.
The number of reported cases has dropped from 3.5 million in 1986 to 1797 in 2010, a reduction of more than 99%. The four countries where transmission is still occurring are South Sudan, Mali, Chad and Ethiopia. South Sudan reported 1698 cases in 2010, or 94% of the global total.