Nigeria Teen Receives Ceremonial Dose of Praziquantel

Editor's Note:In light of recent events, we have been reflecting on the depth and breadth of President Carter’s impact. This is one in a series of stories from our archives that show how his principles, expressed through Carter Center initiatives, have affected the lives of real people.

Nigerian Teen Receives Ceremonial Dose of Medication

First published Nov. 21, 2016

Thirteen-year-old Jude Musa looked serious, even stoic, as a volunteer from his village gauged his height with a measuring stick. Community drug distributor Yusuf Maikeffi determined the proper dose of praziquantel and handed the tablets to the boy, who popped them into his mouth and chased them with fresh water from a plastic pouch.

With that small exchange in Gidan Gimba, a village in Nasarawa State, Nigeria, The Carter Center marked 500 million doses of medication distributed since 1996 to fight neglected tropical diseases.

  • A boy in Nigeria walks with his soccer ball

    Ball in hand, Jude Musa, 13, and his friends head for a river bank in Gidan Gimba, Nasarawa State, Nigeria. The children like to play in the river, where many become infected with the parasite that causes schistosomiasis. (Photos: The Carter Center/R. McDowall)

Clear skies and bright sunshine provided an ideal setting as more than 1,000 people attended the celebration on Nov. 4. Amid the music, speeches, salutes to chiefs and other dignitaries, a drama presentation, and traditional dance performances, a sense of accomplishment and determination prevailed.

Jude, who previously had shown signs of schistosomiasis, a parasitic infection that damages internal organs, encouraged his family and neighbors to take the medicine Maikeffi offers.

“If you take this medicine, it will help you,” the youth said. “I used to urinate with blood, but after taking the tablet, I bleed no more.”

  • Jude Musa receives medication.

    Carter Center volunteer community drug distributor Yusuf Maikeffi measures his young neighbor Jude Musa to determine the proper dosage of medication during a ceremony Nov. 4 in a small village in Nigeria.

Donated medications have gone to help control or eliminate river blindness (Mectizan, donated by Merck & Co. Inc., Rahway, New Jersey), trachoma (azithromycin, donated by Pfizer Inc), schistosomiasis, and lymphatic filariasis in 14 countries in Africa and Latin America; 42 percent of the treatments have been administered in Nigeria, where all of the Carter Center’s disease programs have operated.

Dr. Frank Richards heads up the Center’s programs to combat river blindness, schistosomiasis, and lymphatic filariasis, as well as a project to treat for intestinal worms.

“Half a billion treatments is an amazing milestone, and it’s well worth celebrating,” Richards (who has since semiretired) said. “Even more worth celebrating is the impact that we are having from those treatments. You can’t calculate the good that’s been done.”

2023 Update

The Carter Center continues to partner with the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health to control schistosomiasis. The Ministry of Health determined in December 2022 that the drug treatments had been so successful that it could stop treatment for river blindness in four states, covering 18.9 million people. Plateau and Nasarawa states declared elimination of lymphatic filariasis as a public health problem in 2017. The same two states eliminated trachoma as a public health problem in 2018.

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