Fighting Disease: Nigeria
Eradicating Guinea Worm Disease
Current Status:Transmission stopped, November 2008 (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 >
Since 1988, the Carter Center's Guinea Worm Eradication Program has worked with the Nigeria Ministry of Health to spare thousands of people from suffering from this devastating disease. Read full text >
River blindness is a parasitic disease transmitted by the bite of small black flies that breed in rapidly flowing streams and rivers. The disease, which causes severe itching, eye damage, and often blindness, can be prevented through health education and Mectizan® distribution. Learn more about the Carter Center's campaign to eliminate river blindness from the Americas and to control it in Africa >
Nigeria is the most endemic country in the world for river blindness, accounting for as much as 40 percent of the global disease burden. It is estimated that up to 27 million Nigerians living in 32 endemic states need treatment for river blindness. Read full text >
Lymphatic filariasis is a debilitating and deforming disease caused by infection from a parasitic worm called Wuchereria bancrofti that lives in the victim's lymphatic system. The World Health Organization ranks lymphatic filariasis as a leading cause of permanent and long-term disability worldwide. Annual, communitywide health education and treatment with the medicines Mectizan® and albendazole reduce or eliminate transmission of the parasite, thus saving a new generation from the fate of many of their parents and grandparents. Learn more about the Carter Center's Lymphatic Filariasis Elimination Program >
Nigeria is the most endemic country for lymphatic filariasis in Africa, and the third most endemic country in the world, with about 25 million people infected (22 percent of the population). In 1998, at the invitation of the Federal Ministry of Health and the state ministries of health of Plateau and Nasarawa States, The Carter Center helped those two states establish a Lymphatic Filariasis Elimination Program with the goal of demonstrating that lymphatic filariasis transmission could be interrupted in Africa. Read full text >
The leading cause of preventable blindness in the world, trachoma is an excruciating bacterial disease endemic to the poorest countries of the world. Although not typically a fatal disease, severe trachoma is disabling, debilitating, and eventually leads to blindness. The Carter Center supports trachoma control in six African countries in partnership with trachoma-endemic communities, ministries of health, the Lions Clubs International Foundation, Pfizer Inc., and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. Learn more about the Carter Center's Trachoma Control Program >
The national program estimates that 75 million people are at risk for trachoma, with 28 million people living in the 11 Nigerian states known to be endemic. Read full text >
Schistosomiasis, also known as bilharziasis or "snail fever," is a waterborne parasitic infection that damages internal organs, with the most common symptom being blood in urine and/or feces and an enlarged liver. It most commonly affects the health of school-age children. Controlling schistosomiasis is relatively easy. A single oral dose of the drug praziquantel, when paired with health education, annually reverses up to 90 percent of the damage caused by the disease. Learn more about the Carter Center's Schistosomiasis Control Program >
In partnership with Nigerian health authorities, the Carter Center's Schistosomiasis Control Program works to control schistosomiasis in Delta, Nasarawa, and Plateau states, most recently through a pioneering program that integrates the treatment of several diseases at once. In this approach — known as triple-drug treatment — a health worker gives a community member three different medicines at one time that in combination treat river blindness, lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis, and several kinds of intestinal worms. Initial studies have shown that integrating treatment results in operation cost savings of about 41 percent. Read full text >
Malaria is a potentially fatal mosquito-borne parasitic disease, widespread in tropical and sub-tropical regions. Each year, the preventable disease, which causes high fevers and flu-like symptoms, kills more than 1 million people (mostly children), with 350-500 million cases reported annually worldwide. Learn more about the Carter Center's Malaria Control Program >
More deaths occur in Nigeria from malaria than in any other country; approximately one third of all children who die from malaria are Nigerian.Read full text >
Working hand in hand with Nigeria's Ministry of Agriculture, The Carter Center, in a partnership with the Sasakawa-Africa Association, formerly known as SG2000, assisted farmers in Nigeria with agricultural production starting in 1993. The program was active in the states of Bauchi, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, Kebbi, Sokoto, and Zamfara. The prescription was simple: Provide farmers with credit for fertilizers and enhanced seeds to grow test plots. These test plots often yielded 200 to 400 percent more crops, and farmers went on to teach other farmers, creating a ripple effect to stimulate self-sufficiency.
The program was part of a larger partnership led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Norman Borlaug that helped more than 8 million small-scale sub-Saharan African farmers in countries where malnutrition is a constant threat.
The Carter Center ended its agricultural activities in Nigeria in 2011.
In November 2008, Nigeria reported its last case of Guinea worm disease in then 58-year-old Grace Otubu in Ezza Nkwubor village in southeastern Nigeria. After 13 consecutive months of no further reported cases of Guinea worm disease, Nigeria announced officially it had stopped disease transmission, breaking a centuries-old cycle that once burdened the nation more than any other country on earth.
In Nasarawa state, Nigeria, 35-year-old Zaki Baushe's job as a tailor was hindered by his poor eyesight caused by the parasitic disease river blindness. After Carter Center-supported health education and annual doses of the Merck-donated drug Mectizan® to treat river blindness, Baushe is now able to rethread a needle and provide for his family.
A unique component of the Carter Center's work against lymphatic filariasis in Nigeria is to hold first-of-its-kind support groups where people suffering from the disease can come together and discuss the physical challenges and social stigma of the disfiguring condition.
In 2010, in Aloshi village in central Nigeria, 4-year-old David Nuhu became the first person in Nigeria to receive treatment for the blinding bacterial infection trachoma. In Nigeria, Carter Center-supported trachoma control activities focus on three of the four ways to prevent blinding trachoma: encouraging face and hand washing, improving environmental sanitation, and mass drug administration of the antibiotic Zithromax® (donated by Pfizer Inc.) to treat the bacterial infection.
Lab scientist Solomon Izang tests 10-year-old Dorcas Azi for malaria in Fobur village. The Azi family, living on the outskirts of Fubor village, Nigeria, has been disproportionately afflicted with malaria. In 2010, at the request of the Nigeria Ministry of Health, the Center began scaling up activities to include bed net distribution to villagers such as the Azis, as well as health education and assistance with monitoring and evaluation of the program.
The Carter Center, in partnership with the Nigeria Ministry of Health, has developed an innovative way of simultaneously treating several parasitic diseases in Nigeria. In this approach — known as triple-drug treatment — a health worker gives a community member three different medicines at one time that in combination treat river blindness, lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis, and several kinds of intestinal worms.