Dracunculiasis Eradication: a Mid-Decade Status Report

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  • WHO Collaborating Center for Research, Training and Control of Dracunculiasis, Centers For Disease Control, Atlanta, Georgia 30333

A campaign to eradicate dracunculiasis has been underway from the beginning of the International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade (1981–1990), since providing safe drinking water is the most effective means to prevent that disease. About 120 million persons are estimated to be at risk of the infection in Africa, and 20 million more in India and Pakistan. Both major endemic countries in Asia have begun efforts to eliminate the disease, and by the end of 1986, national anti-dracunculiasis programs were underway or planned in 8 of the 19 affected African countries. In May 1986, the World Health Assembly adopted a resolution on the elimination of dracunculiasis—the first such resolution since the successful Smallpox Eradication Program. India, which began its Guinea Worm Eradication Program in 1980, has already eliminated the disease from one of seven endemic states, and reduced the total number of cases found through active surveillance by 35% between 1983 and 1985. In Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), the only African country to conduct active surveillance for dracunculiasis so far, an aggressive combined program of rural water supply, health education, and active surveillance has reduced the disease from 4,971 cases in 1976 to 592 cases in 1985.