JACKSONVILLE, Alabama — Thousands of villages throughout Ghana have been eradicated of the Guinea worm, an incurable pathogen known for thriving in contaminated water.
According to reports, once ingested, the Guinea worm harvests and breeds within the interior tissue of legs and feet, where over one million eggs are discharged from a single worm. The removal of such pathogens typically takes up to six weeks. A team of medical workers is called upon to extract the parasite from infected individuals.
Cases of this parasite date back to the 1980s, when over 3.5 million cases of the disease were reported, according to NBC News.
Harrowingly, the disease reached its peak in 2007, when the Associated Press disclosed that the plan to retrieve rainwater via regional rock beds in Guinea had served as the breeding grounds for the dangerous pathogens.
In spite of scrapped plans, thousands of Guinea cases have remarkably dwindled thanks to joint efforts by international partners such as the European Union and UNICEF. Further contributions from the Carter Center, created by former United States President Jimmy Carter, have also served in the eradication process.
The Carter Center is one of the many organizations to continue to eradicate the pathogen. Dating back to the late 1980s, Jimmy Carter first encountered the crisis after sighting a pregnant African woman who was infected with the parasite.
In 2007, Carter noted that Ghana and neighboring African villages frequently suffered from fluctuating progress. However, with continued support from fellow allies like the Carter Center, the guinea worm’s demise became certain. Today, the pathogen has disappeared from Ghana’s radar. Yet, the Carter Center continues to strive in eliminating the parasite in other developing nations.
On January 20, 2015, GhanaWeb revealed to the general public that the World Health Organization, WHO, fully recognized Ghana as a “polio free state,” specifically pertaining to the Guinea worm eradication.
On March 14, 2015, Ghana Health Service denounced initial reports that the Guinea cases had migrated to the Upper West Akyem district. Dr. Franklin Asiedu-Bekoe, a medical analyst, confirmed to the press that the community held no history of Guinea worm based on tested data from the region.
In spite of conflicting reports, officials for the Carter Center have remained vocal in distributing an annual $350 million plan to produce simple, low-tech implementation of clean water, and to establish monitoring of infections. With the utilization of a large spending plan, representatives for the foundation confirm the plan to retain the same methods in destroying the Guinea worm.
– Jeff Varner
Sources: GBC Ghana, GhanaWeb, NBC News, Spy Ghana, The Borgen Project