Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ilorin, Global 2000, Inc., The Carter Center, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calabar, Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Ibadan, Department of Disease Control and International Health, Federal Ministry of Health, Global 2000, Inc., Federal Ministry of Health, Ilorin, Nigeria
The transformation of dracunculiasis from an obscure and neglected rural disease to the highly visible target of a national eradication campaign in Nigeria is described in this report. This process progressed through four overlapping stages: documentation of the extent and nature of the disease as a national problem, demonstration in Nigeria that dracunculiasis could be effectively prevented by targeted provision and use of protected rural water supplies, mobilization for community participation in, and political support of, the eradication effort, and implementation of interventions nationwide. The conduct of the first national village-by-village search for cases and documentation of the adverse socioeconomic impact of the disease (e.g., on rice production) in Nigeria were the key elements used to solicit greater attention to the problem and mobilize support for its eradication. The critical role of the mass media in this effort and other benefits of this mobilization strategy are also highlighted.