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Countdown to Zero: Defeating Disease | A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Difficult, Sometimes Dangerous Work of Eradicating Guinea Worm Disease

For Immediate Release
NARA: Tony Clark, 404-865-7109, Tony.Clark@NARA.govThe Emory Institute for Developing Nations, 404-727-6951,

Atlanta - The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum, The Carter Center, and Emory University’s Institute for Developing Nations invite you to learn how museum design, the hunt for global health’s holy grail (eradication), and sheer human determination intersect in a new exhibition at the Jimmy Carter Museum. Countdown to Zero: Defeating Disease explores the social and scientific innovations that make disease eradication possible.

Countdown to Zero: Reception and Discussion
Tuesday, March 21, 6:00 p.m.
Jimmy Carter Museum
441 Freedom Parkway
Atlanta, GA  30307

RSVP here or email:

Enjoy a reception, grab a refreshment from the cash bar, mingle with your Atlanta neighbors, and tour the temporary exhibition Countdown to Zero: Defeating Disease, which was created by the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City in collaboration with The Carter Center.

At 7:00 p.m., AMNH Curator Dr. Mark Siddall gives a behind-the-scenes look at how one of the world’s largest museums built an exhibition around stories of tracking, mapping, and containing Guinea worm disease. Siddall will also welcome Mr. Makoy Samuel Yibi Logora of the South Sudan Ministry of Health to speak about the successes and challenges faced by the South Sudan Guinea Worm Eradication Program.

Under Makoy’s leadership, the national program has reduced incidence of Guinea worm by more than 99 percent over the past decade, despite enormous challenges. Siddall traveled through South Sudan with Makoy in 2013 while curating Countdown to Zero in order to observe eradication efforts firsthand. Both are visiting Atlanta to participate in the annual Guinea worm disease program review co-hosted by The Carter Center and the World Health Organization.

The exhibition highlights local and international efforts to eradicate disease. To date, only one human disease has been eradicated: smallpox. Since then, efforts to wipe out Guinea worm disease and polio have persisted, and both campaigns now have an end in sight.

Reaching Zero: The Guinea worm’s life cycle is like something out of a science fiction movie: The microscopic parasite enters the body through contaminated drinking water, grows for almost a year, and emerges as a meter-long worm through a burning blister in the skin. This ancient ailment incapacitates people for extended periods of time, preventing them from working, growing food for their families, or attending school.

The Carter Center has led the international campaign to eradicate Guinea worm since 1986. There is no vaccine or medicine to prevent the infection; the Center’s strategy is to work with ministries of health to provide health education and help to maintain political will. In 2016, 25 cases were provisionally reported in three countries; six of those cases were in South Sudan.


The Jimmy Carter Presidential Museum will host additional global health events related to the Countdown to Zero exhibition. The next upcoming event is:

Countdown to Zero: Polio, History in the Making
Saturday, April 1, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Parents and children of all ages are invited to join us at the Jimmy Carter Museum to learn about the history of polio eradication as experts work toward a polio-free world.

Countdown to Zero: Defeating Disease was created by the American Museum of Natural History in collaboration with the Carter Center. The exhibition is on display at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Museum until Dec. 16, 2017. For more information on the exhibition and The Carter Center’s work to fight Guinea worm, visit

The Institute for Developing Nations (IDN) is deeply committed to finding new ways for higher education to help solve some of the world's most complex development problems by connecting practitioners and scholars working to advance human rights and alleviate human suffering. IDN leverages the strengths of Emory University and The Carter Center to unite research and action and engage partners beyond the university.

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