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Eradicating Guinea Worm Requires New Approaches, Reform

Undark: Three Decades Later, We’re Still Grappling With the Guinea Worm
Jordan Schermerhorn, analyst, researcher, and consultant

“…[T]he final push to full eradication of the [Guinea worm] parasite requires new approaches — including the implementation of better surveillance in at-risk communities, and more rigorous and field-informed scientific research. … The Guinea worm eradication program is deeply in need of reform. So how do we get there? First, assumptions must be tested. … Secondly, case searches must be creatively broadened. … Thirdly, the World Health Organization must update procedures for certifying a country as being free of Guinea worm disease. … I must temper these recommendations with political reality. Pressures to report success, both for endemic countries and international institutions, run contrary to comprehensiveness. … But efforts in this critical period may determine whether humanity ultimately succeeds in once more banishing a disease from the earth. In the face of this potential achievement, it would be a shame to linger in the realm of ‘almost'” (11/15).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.