Feature Stories
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The Carter Center:  2011 In Review

Dec. 13, 2011

The Carter Center improved the lives of women, men, and children around the world in 2011 by reaching milestones in the fight to eradicate Guinea worm disease, monitoring historic elections, defending human rights, and championing mental health.  Highlights include:

Eradicating Guinea Worm Disease  

The Carter Center-led initiative to eradicate Guinea worm disease entered its final phase in 2011: only 1,056 cases were reported from January to October; Ghana announced the end of transmission in July; Nigeria and Niger were honored for ending the disease; and Britain pledged $31 million to fund the eradication campaign to its end. After 25 years of progress — without any vaccine or medicine — cases worldwide have been reduced by more than 99 percent of the initial 3.5 million when the campaign began.  The water-borne parasitic disease is poised to be the second human disease in history to be eradicated.

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Monitoring Historic Elections

The Carter Center witnessed historic elections in 2011, including a peaceful, credible vote by the people of Southern Sudan to form a new nation; the first Arab Spring election in Tunisia; Liberia's presidential and legislative elections — the first administered by the country's election commission; the Democratic Republic of the Congo's challenging election; and others, including the Cherokee Nation, Egypt, Côte d'Ivoire, and ongoing work in Nepal.

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Distributing 10 Million Bed Nets

In the spring of 2011, the Center and its partners achieved an important milestone by reaching a cumulative total of 10 million bed nets distributed where they are needed most to fight malaria in Ethiopian and Nigerian communities.

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Championing Mental Health 

Under the leadership of Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, the Carter Center's Mental Health Program continued to champion for the rights of people around the world who live with mental illnesses. In 2011, the Center-sponsored program in Liberia graduated the first credentialed class of locally trained mental health clinicians in that country's history; eight mental health journalists — six from the U.S. and two from Romania — were awarded fellowships;  and the annual symposium examined supports and services for children impacted by domestic violence.

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Defending Human Rights

The Carter Center's Human Rights Program held its sixth Human Rights Defenders Forum in April 2011, calling on religious leaders to stand for equal rights for girls and women, and launched a new website detailing information and maps about the impact of industrial mines on poor populations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's Katanga Province.

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Ending River Blindness Transmission

In November 2011, three countries reached milestones in the battle against onchocerciasis, or river blindness.  Colombia became the first country in the Americas to apply to the World Health Organization for certification of river blindness elimination, and Guatemala and Mexico announced that the disease's transmission cycle has been broken. The Carter Center-sponsored Onchocerciasis Elimination Program of the Americas, or OEPA, will continue its elimination efforts in the two remaining affected countries in Latin America — Brazil and Venezuela — by providing mass treatment with Mectizan® tablets in hopes of interrupting transmission next year.

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Transferring Ethiopia Public Health Training Initiative

After 13 years training more than 26,000 public health workers to help fill the gap in rural health services for 75 million Ethiopians, The Carter Center-assisted Ethiopia Public Health Training Initiative (EPHTI) was officially transferred in March 2011 to Ethiopia's Federal Ministries of Health and Education. Established in 1997 at the invitation of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, EPHTI worked in partnership with seven Ethiopian universities and the Ethiopian government to improve the public health education system. 
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Calling for More Human Rights in Cuba

In a follow-up to their May 2002 visit, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter — with a small Carter Center delegation — visited Havana on behalf of The Carter Center March 28-30, 2011, at the invitation of Cuban President Raul Castro. During the three-day visit, President Carter called for more human rights in the country and urged U.S. officials to end the prohibition on trade.

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Fighting Trachoma and Malaria in Ethiopia

In the Amhara region of Ethiopia, the world's epicenter for trachoma, The Carter Center and its partners deployed 4,633 teams to distribute drugs to prevent the blinding disease and screen for malaria during two MALTRA weeks held in May and November of 2011.

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Supporting Democracy in the Americas

The fourth and final Carter Center and International IDEA-sponsored meeting of the Andean-United States Dialogue Forum was held on Aug. 2-3, 2011, in Lima, Peru. Composed of citizens and stakeholders from the United States and the Andean countries —Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela — the Forum culminated with dissemination of its report, Toward a Common Agenda for the Andean Countries and the United States (PDF).  Also in 2011, the Friends of the Inter-American Democratic Charter — a project of the Carter Center's Americas Program — celebrated its 10th anniversary.

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