Fighting Disease: Benin
Eradicating Guinea Worm Disease
Current Status: Transmission stopped, March 2004 (read the announcement)
Certification of Dracunculiasis Eradication: Pending
Dracunculiasis, or Guinea worm disease, is a preventable parasitic infection contracted when a person ingests drinking water from stagnant sources containing copepods (commonly referred to as water fleas) that harbor infective Guinea worm larvae. Inside a person's body, the larvae grow for a year, becoming thin threadlike worms up to 1 meter long. These worms create agonizingly painful blisters in the skin through which they slowly exit the body, preventing the victim from attending school, caring for children, or harvesting crops. Learn more about the historic Carter Center-led campaign to eradicate Guinea worm disease >
In 1993, with assistance from The Carter Center, the Benin Ministry of Health established a national program to eradicate Guinea worm disease. That year, Benin reported approximately 14,000 cases of Guinea worm. By 2004, the incidence of this painful and debilitating disease had been reduced by more than 99 percent, and only three indigenous cases were reported. Read full text >
Working hand in hand with the Benin Ministry of Agriculture, the Carter Center's Agriculture Program assisted farmers in Benin with agricultural production from 1989-1996. The program, in partnership with the Sasakawa Africa Association, led by the late Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Norman Borlaug, was part of a larger joint initiative that has helped more than 8 million small-scale, sub-Saharan farmers double or triple crop yields in countries where malnutrition is a constant threat.
The program in Benin assisted 100,000 families to adopt green manure crops, such as velvet bean, quality protein maize, and rice. Improved seeds, paired with the use of new farming technologies, helped farmers enhance soil fertility, control noxious weeds, and increase crop yield. Read full text >
Carter Center Photo: Deborah Hakes
His Excellency Ambassador Segbe Cyrille Oguin of Benin accepts the Carter Center Award for Guinea Worm Disease Eradication on behalf of his country. Benin's Guinea Worm Eradication Program stopped disease transmission in its last known endemic village in March of 2004.