Guinea-worm disease eradication hit by lack of funds

Safe clean drinking water

The Guinea-worm disease is on the verge of eradication, but progress is being slowed down by lack of funding, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Fewer than 1,800 cases of the disease were reported last year compared to an estimated 3.5 million cases in the mid 1980s.

WHO says the disease is still endemic in four African countries including South Sudan, Mali, Chad and Ethiopia.

Guinea-worm disease is a crippling parasitic disease which is transmitted through drinking contaminated water.

Dr Dirk Engels from WHO says simple community based interventions are key to the eradication of the Guinea-worm.

"How do we aim to eradicate the disease? It's purely by putting things in place to make it difficult for the worm to be transmitted. That means spotting potential cases very early, making sure that the wounds are bandaged and that the treatment is given. Making sure that those people don't get into the water because it gives an excruciating burning pain and people have a tendency to go into the water to relief that pain, and at the same time the worm releases its larvae and also supplying safe water to people, if you cant immediately do that making sure that people filter the water before they drink it."

The WHO Guinea-worm disease eradication programme has budgeted 350 million US Dollars to date.

Nearly all of the new cases reported are in South Sudan.

 Duration 44"

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