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Carter Center, Japanese Government Partner To Eradicate Guinea Worm

ATLANTA...In the history of mankind, only one disease, smallpox, has been eradicated. Through the efforts of a worldwide coalition led by The Carter Center and with the generous support of partners such as the Government of Japan, a parasitic disease known as Guinea worm is poised to become the second, and the first disease to be overcome without a single vaccine or medication.

Since 1989, the Government of Japan has provided more than $US 20 million to The Carter Center and the Guinea Worm Eradication Program, becoming the Center's second largest government donor. Contributions from the Japanese Government have been instrumental in helping The Carter Center and its partners to reduce the number of Guinea worm cases by 98 percent since the worldwide eradication campaign began in 1986.

"The generous support of partner organizations, like the Government of Japan, continue to provide us the necessary ammunition to fight and win the battle against Guinea worm disease," former President Jimmy Carter has said.

The Carter Center's partnership with the Government of Japan is invaluable at a time when the worldwide campaign makes its final push to eradicate Guinea worm disease. Its financial support and in-kind contributions, such as vehicles and assistance in targeting water supply projects, has helped the Center and its partners to make Asia Guinea-worm free and end transmission of this debilitating disease in seven countries.

Guinea worm disease cripples victims, leaving them unable to work, attend school, care for children, or harvest crops. Eradicating, or at the very least reducing, the incidence of Guinea worm disease in a country improves the status of life for all people.

The Carter Center helps to provide the essential ingredients for a successful eradication campaign: political will, financial support, and technical expertise. Working with the federal and state ministries of health and local health authorities, the Center not only aims to build capacity and strengthen existing systems, but also to generate political will and support to expand them, understanding that without the help of every person in every endemic village, eradication is impossible. Together with the national Guinea worm eradication programs, and many partners, worldwide incidence of the disease has been reduced from 3.5 million cases in 1986 to less than 65,000 in 2001. Today, the armed conflict in Sudan presents the final challenge to end the disease, with this war-torn country accounting for nearly 80 percent of the cases reported.


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