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09.07.2004 General News

Carter Foundation brings medical kits

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Accra, July 9, GNA- More than 300 volunteers and members of the diplomatic community in Atlanta would join Carter Centre staff from July 13 to 30 to assemble 30,000 medical kits to be used for the eradication of the last one per cent of Guinea worm disease left in the world. The medical supplies, donated by Johnson & Johnson, would be sorted into medical kits to be distributed to volunteer health workers in Sudan, Ghana, and Nigeria, the three most endemic countries. A statement issued by the Carter Centre received on Friday in Accra has said.

It said each medical kit would allow volunteers to care for 10 people who suffer from Guinea worm, allowing children to return to school and parents to work.

The statement quoted former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, chairman of the Carter Centre as saying: "This remarkable demonstration of corporate and personal caring is putting the best face of America forward around the world.

"By helping to prevent the terrible and unnecessary suffering caused by Guinea worm disease, this project will help to make life better for some of the most forgotten people in the world." Former President Carter recently visited Northern Ghana to whip up work on eradicating guinea worm in the country.

Organizations providing donations or volunteers to support the assembly of the medical kits include Atlanta Bread Company Airport - Atrium, LLC; BellSouth Corporation and British Consulate General Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Assembled medical kits would be distributed to Guinea worm volunteers in areas where medical attention is most needed, primarily regions without medical centres.

One medical kit would be distributed with each of 12,000 backpacks printed with the message "Stop Guinea Worm Now - Ask Me How." Eighteen thousand additional kits will be used to replenish supplies.

With less than one percent of the disease remaining, guinea worm is expected to be the first parasitic disease to be eradicated and the first disease to be eradicated without vaccines or medications. The disease is contracted when people consume stagnant water, contaminated with microscopic water fleas carrying infective larvae. Inside a human's abdomen, the larvae mature and grow, some as long as three feet.

After a year, the worm slowly emerges through a painful blister in the skin, usually on the lower limbs. In highly endemic areas, infected people usually have more than one Guinea worm, in some cases dozens, emerging at once.

Ghana is the most endemic Guinea worm country in West Africa, second in the world only to Sudan, which has 63 percent of remaining cases. Together, Sudan, Ghana, and Nigeria currently account for 94 percent of all reported cases of Guinea worm worldwide. 9 July 04