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General News
Carter expresses concern about Guineaworm eradication 2/9/2007
Accra, Feb. 8, GNA - Former US President, Jimmy Carter on Thursday expressed concern about the slow progress in the eradication of guinea worm in the country.

He said though the national eradication programme begun in 1989 with nearly 180,000 cases throughout the country, the caseload still remained stagnant at 4,130 in 2006 with half of the affected being children under 15 years.

"Ghana is going backward and not forward in the guinea worm eradication programme and I am not too happy about it after all the support from my Centre and from other stakeholders", he said. Ghana still ranked second on the world list as the most endemic country next to Sudan with 20,300 cases, whilst Mali, Niger, Togo, Nigeria and Cote d''Ivoire recording 329, 110, 29,16, and 5 respectively. President Carter said this when he briefed the media on his visit to Ghana to follow up with the country''s guinea worm eradication programme, which the Carter Centre in collaboration with other stakeholders were pushing for a total eradication. President Carter noted that Ghana should do more to raise public awareness and ensure a sense of urgency to put an end to the social injustice of guinea worm, which he described as "unnecessary and preventable".

He said: "The country has the wealth and ability to eradicate the guinea worm disease. But there needs to be more commitment of officials and health staff at all levels to keep people with guinea worm from contaminating sources of drinking water".

The 10 most endemic districts are Savelugu-Naton, Tolon-Kumbugu, Tamale, East Gonja, Yendi, Nanumba North, Pru, Central Gonja, Gushegu and Wa East.

The disease is more prevalent in areas where there is no safe water supply for drinking and the most affected regions are the Northern, Volta and Brong Ahafo.

Guinea worm is a disease caused by nematode parasite and its transmission cycle involves an intermediate host, the water flea or Cyclops, which abound in stagnant ponds and puddles. President Carter suggested frequent abatement of ponds, increase in containment to 100 per cent and increment in support from stakeholders as the solution for the total eradication of the disease. He appealed that his next visit to Ghana next year should be welcomed with good news.

Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa, Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, said guinea worm was being treated as a national priority and had been included in the development agenda of all development agencies. He noted that it was sad that Ghana was a star in all diseases on the continent but ranked the second highest endemic country in guinea worm.

"Despite all the numerous efforts put in to ensure its eradication, the Northern Region still reported 90 per cent of all the cases". He explained that strategies had been put in place to ensure total eradication by abating all ponds, ensuring the use of filters as well as ensuring that no infected persons entered ponds.

He called on opinion leaders in endemic communities to help in the total eradication of the disease by educating their members on the need to filter their water and also to prevent people with the disease from entering water sources.

Prof Akosa also called for attitudinal change of the communities and urged them to cooperate to ensure total eradiation of the disease. 8 Feb. 07Source:

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