In December 2017 the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Kenya, one of the last remaining countries, as free of the Guinea worm disease after three years without recording new cases.
Kenya, along with Chad and Ethiopia, was one of last countries that reported cases of a worm infection. Now however Ashok Kumar, deputy leader of the International Certification Team, told journalists in Nairobi that after “visiting 44 of 47 countries, interviewing communities, reviewing records” for the past three years shows no trace of the disease have been recorded.
The final decision on certifying Kenya free of the Guinea worm is up to the International Commission for the Certification of Drancunculiasis Eradition (ICCDE), which will come together for the decision in February 2018.
Guinea Worm Disease
The drancunculiasis (Guinea worm disease) in a parasitic infection caused by the nematode roundworm parasite Dracunculus medinensis. People can get infected when consuming water from stagnant sources contaminated with Guinea worm larvae. Inside a human body, Guinea worm larvae mate and female worms mature and grow.
The female worm can grow up to one meter long in after about a year of incubation. At this time the worm causes an excruciating lesion on the skin and slowly emerges from the body. Guinea worm sufferers may seek relief by cooling the burning parts in water sources, but this contact with water stimulates the emerging worm to release its larvae into the water and begin the cycle of infection all over again.
Beside the WHO, ministries of health and local communities The Carter Center, founded by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, has taken a huge part in the international campaign to eradicate the Guinea worm disease calling it “a particularly devastating disease that incapacitates people for extended periods of time, making them unable to care for themselves, work, grow food for their families, or attend school.” According to The Carter Center it will be the second human disease in history to be eradicated and the first on ever without the use of vaccine or medicine.
Since beginning of the eradication in the 1980’s the international community has made a huge progress. From 3,5 million infected people mid-80’s the disease has been embanked to 25 cases in 2015 and 24 cases in 2016 and 2017. The last remaining countries are Chad and Ethiopia.
Before Kenya Ghana has been the last country to be certified Guinea worm free in 2015.
By: Sophie Zoe Schreiber