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Close to eradicating guinea worm?

October 6, 2011: This week the World Health Organisation reported that the world is coming extremely close to eradicating the crippling parasitic disease guinea worm. This would be a remarkable achievement, making it only the second disease in history, after smallpox, to be completely wiped out.

Eradicating guinea worm would leave many countries in West Africa, including Togo and Burkina Faso where Plan works in partnership with the Global Fund on this issue, feeling a lot safer when it comes to collecting and using precious water sources.

What is guinea worm?

A parasitic infection, the guinea worm usually grows up to 1 metre long and leads to severe disability, meaning people cannot work and provide food for their families or education costs for their children.
Caused by drinking infected, stagnant water, guinea worm affects around 3.5 million people across Africa each year. Now, these figures have been reduced by 99%, and with a final push guinea worm is on the verge of being completely eradicated.

Teaching children

With a strong focus on child participation to help prevent the risks of catching guinea worm, Plan together with the Global Fund are still working hard on the best form of prevention: education. We teach children and their families how to avoid being infected by guinea worm, and provide training on how to use cloth filters to sieve out any water fleas which may carry infected guinea worm larvae.  This work is vital in stopping the disease spread, and the children can then share what they have learnt with their families and their communities, thereby putting an end to the cycle of pain and suffering caused to so many across West Africa.

Read more about Plan and the Global Fund