JAMAICA, N.Y. (Jan.19, 2006) – North American Airlines, a wholly owned subsidiary of World Air Holdings, Inc. (NADAQ:WLDAE), has launched an onboard program to raise funds in support of The Carter Center and its mission to eradicate Guinea worm disease.
North American produced a four-minute video that explains the disease and urges passengers to "make history and change the world" by making a financial contribution to the Carter Center's Guinea Worm Eradication Program. The onboard video, shown on North American Airlines scheduled service flights, features Carter Center founder and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, and informs passengers that all contributions will be matched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
"After we launched North American Airlines service to Accra last summer, we considered various opportunities to demonstrate our commitment to Ghana," said Rob Binns, World Air Holdings Chief Marketing Officer. "Eradication of Guinea worm disease is a worthwhile commitment that will have a permanent impact on the quality of life in Ghana, and we are proud to join with The Carter Center for this humanitarian mission."
Since 1986, the Center has coordinated a coalition of organizations and governments to eradicate Guinea worm disease, a parasite that once crippled millions in Africa and Asia. When the program began, there were roughly 3.5 million cases in 20 countries. Today, there are fewer than 12,000 cases in nine countries – all in Africa. To help break the cycle, health workers and field volunteers continue to intensify efforts. Ghana has renewed efforts by targeting the disease for complete elimination in the nation's golden anniversary year, 2007.
"The Carter Center, in a partnership with North American Airlines, believes good health is a basic human right," said Jimmy Carter. "The impact of having Guinea worm disease probably will never enter your life or the lives of your family. Yet, at this very moment, it is crippling someone else's children. Together we can eradicate this horrible disease within our lifetime."
Guinea worm is poised to become the second disease to be eradicated in human history, and the first to be overcome without a vaccine or treatment. It is a painful waterborne parasite that affects rural communities. Guinea worm cripples adults and children, preventing them from farming or attending school.
In poor, remote areas, people contract the disease by unknowingly drinking water contaminated with the Guinea worm larvae. Over the span of a year, the worm matures to a length of one meter before painfully exiting the human body through a skin blister. The burning sensation often drives victims to nearby ponds to seek relief. The worm then releases tiny larvae into the water and the cycle continues. The disease can be prevented by educating people about the causes, and by providing filters to screen larvae from drinking water.
In Accra, on April 5, 2005, The Carter Center announced that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation would pledge USD$25 million to the Center's fight to eradicate the remaining cases of Guinea worm disease worldwide. The grant included an initial $5 million contribution and challenges other donors to provide an additional $20 million, which the Gates Foundation will match one-to-one. Donations collected on board North American flights will be forwarded to the Carter Center's Guinea Worm Eradication Program and doubled by the Gates Foundation.
"We hope to extend the program to other customers at both of our subsidiaries, North American and World Airways, so they can participate in this humanitarian effort and make an even greater impact," Binns said.
North American Airlines, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of World Air Holdings, Inc., is a U.S.-certificated air carrier offering air transportation services throughout the world for the U.S. military and commercial customers. Founded in 1989, North American operates a fleet of eight passenger aircraft in charter and scheduled service. For information, visit www.northamericanair.com.
The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide. A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, the Center has helped to improve life for people in more than 65 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; improving mental health care; and teaching farmers to increase crop production. Please visit www.cartercenter.org to learn more about The Carter Center.