FORMER PRESIDENT of the United States, Jimmy Carter, has congratulated Ghana for recording 91 percent reduction in the incidence of Guinea worm infestation in the country.
“Ghana has done well in turning around the incidence of Guinea worm cases as the recent figures compared to last year's are far better,” he said.
The former US President, who arrived in the country on Monday, made the commendation when he called on President John Agyekum Kufuor in his office at the Castle, Osu, in the evening.
He lauded the efforts of Ghanaians in general and in particular people living in Guinea worm infested areas for their efforts in fighting the disease.
However, he was quick to add that some communities, which were suffering from Guinea worm infestation, especially Savelugu in the Northern Region, the most endemic area in Ghana, were still faced with inadequate water supply.
Mr. Carter, who visited Ghana last year during his tour of guinea worm infested communities, stressed the need for government to do more and ensure that urgency was attached to the eradication of the epidemic from the world.
According to him there was still the need for more surveillance to ensure total eradication throughout the world by 2009.
The veteran politician could not have ended his discussion with Ghana's President without talking about politics especially with his country and Ghana getting ready to go to the polls by the end of this year, and called for free and fair elections.
He inquired from President Kufuor if he would be inviting international observers during the December 7 presidential and parliamentary elections.
President Kufuor on his part expressed his appreciation to Mr. Carter for his support for the eradication of Guinea worm in Ghana and throughout the world.
He said a €45million project has been initiated for the supply of adequate pipe borne water to Tamale in the Northern Region while other communities stand to benefit from boreholes as a source of water supply.
The President stated that the Ministry of Health was providing the right leadership in the fight against the epidemic.
On the issue of the presence of international observers during the 2008 elections, he said he had already remarked that Ghana's doors were open to all.
Former U.S. President, Jimmy Carter, heads the Carter Centre which has spearheaded a coalition of organisations in the global campaign to eradicate Guinea worm disease since 1986.
Returning one year after witnessing Savelugu's horrific Guinea worm outbreak, he will this time discuss Ghana's progress against Guinea worm disease with Ghana's Minister of Health, Major Courage E. K. Quashigah (Rtd.).
Guinea worm disease, caused by a parasitic worm, impoverishes communities by crippling agricultural production and reducing school attendance.
After a more than 20-year battle, Ghana remains the most Guinea worm endemic country in West Africa and second in the world only to war-torn Sudan.
At the end of 2007, Ghana reported a provisional total of 3,358 cases—the fewest number of cases ever reported since the country's first national Guinea worm case search in 1989.
In January 2008, Ghana reported its 10th consecutive month of reduced cases, exceeding more than 80 percent reductions since October, suppressing the upsurge in cases normally expected at the beginning of the annual peak transmission season–an indicator that case numbers should continue to decline steeply in 2008-2009.
Though Ghana accounts for 17 per cent of Guinea worm cases in the world, the country's long-sought goal of total eradication could be finally within reach with continued diligence, dedication, and political will.
The Carter Centre is now waging war against the last fraction of Guinea worm cases globally and hopes to oust the last case by 2009.
By Emelia Ennin