Eradication of Guinea-worm disease on course: WHO

Access to clean water

Guinea- worm disease is on the verge of eradication, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The agency says the number of Guinea-worm disease cases has dropped from a high of 3,190 in 2009 to just under 396 cases during the first six months of 2012.

South Sudan, which carries the largest burden of the disease reporting 391 cases, has pledged to interrupt its transmission by the end of next year.

Mali and Ethiopia reported two cases each while Chad had one case.

Dr Gautam Biswas from WHO says the eradication of the Guinea-worm disease is possible not by sophisticated medicine but by aggressive public health and hygiene awareness among the communities where it is still endemic.

"There is no vaccine needed to prevent or even there is no medicine available. The key to eradication is first very good surveillance to detect every case and once the case is detected to try and contain the case so that they do not infect others through drinking water sources, provision of drinking water and the treatment of the ponds. The only constraint that we see is insecurity which results in population movement from their villages or the access to the health services are problematic due to insecurity."

The disease is parasitic infection transmitted through drinking water contaminated with Guinea-worm larvae.

Once ingested, these larvae can grow for more than a year, reaching two to three feet in length.

Duration: 36"

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