Southern Sudan is the last holdout in a decades-long campaign to eradicate guinea worm, a painful and crippling parasite.
The guinea worm grows up to three feet in length and lives just below the skin, often crippling its human host. There are no vaccines or medicines to treat it. The only cure is to slowly, painfully extract it over days.
Former President Jimmy Carter has led the fight against the worm, which is directly linked to lack of clean water, and his campaign has reduced worldwide guinea worm cases from more than 2.5 million down to about 2,500.
Guinea worm flourishes in ponds that serve as communal water sources for African villages, and much of Carter's campaign has been focused on teaching people how the parasite is transmitted and how to avoid it. Experts say the campaign's key to success has been its respectful, collaborative work at the community level, educating villages one by one.
"We will not stop the efforts of the Carter Center until there are no cases of guinea worm left in Southern Sudan or Ghana or Mali or Ethiopia. Those are the only places where we have a few cases left." - Former President Jimmy Carter
“People are very, very astute at picking up condescension. And, unfortunately, there's a lot of that, especially with Westerners coming into the countries.” - Dr. Don Hopkins, associate executive director, The Carter Center
"You have to approach people with the idea that we're here to help you, and, no, we don't have all the answers. You know your own community far better than we ever will." - Dr. Don Hopkins, associate executive director, The Carter Center
1. Where is Sudan? What kinds of political challenges has the country faced recently?
2. Have you heard about guinea worm? What do you know about it?
3. What kinds of diseases have been largely eradicated in the United States that are still present in other countries?
1. According to the video, why did Carter's campaign against guinea worm work so well? What did his foundation do right?
2. Why is guinea worm so hard to prevent? What is the vicious cycle that often keeps it alive and allows it to spread around a village?
3. How does guinea worm affect the functioning of a family or a village? How will getting rid of it help?
Lesson Plan: Water Wars: Responsibility in the Age of Globalization:
Health Workers in Tanzania Battle 'Neglected Diseases':
Eradicating Guinea Worm, Step-by-Step: