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The Sudan Conflict and Disease

by Donald R. Hopkins

Letter by Donald R. Hopkins, vice president of Health Programs at The Carter Center, as published by The New York Times.

To the Editor:

"U.S. Is Facing Hard Choices in South Sudan" (front page, Jan. 4) reports that the conflict there "has left the Obama administration scrambling to prevent the unraveling of a major American achievement in Africa." The conflict also jeopardizes an important South Sudanese achievement, which aims to eliminate Guinea worm disease from the young country by the end of this year, with significant benefits to health, agricultural productivity and school attendance.

One year after the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in January 2005 ended the decades-old civil war between what became South Sudan in 2012 and Sudan, the southern states of Sudan in 2006 reported 20,579 cases of the disease. Despite extraordinary obstacles, with strong political will and leadership by South Sudanese government officials and assistance by the Carter Center and others, the number of cases of Guinea worm disease in South Sudan was steadily reduced to only 115 in 2013, which was 80 percent of the 144 cases (provisionally) reported through November 2013.

Restoring peace in South Sudan quickly would also help preserve this important impending victory for South Sudan and eradication worldwide.


Atlanta, Jan. 6, 2014

The writer, a vice president of The Carter Center, is an expert on the eradication of diseases.

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