We are Smarter Together: The Guinea Worm Eradication Program

The Carter Center was founded by the 39th president of the United States, Jimmy Carter. The Center advocates for the different faces of human rights. Programs are focused on health, politics, and peace. The Center collaborates with numerous organizations, like the CDC and WHO, to implement programs in countries willing to better the lives of their citizens. At the Center we met with Lauren Kent-Delaney, who is the educational director. She introduced the overview of the center and the many educational opportunities for college students like ourselves.

One important program of the Carter Center is the Guinea Worm eradication program. We met with Dr. James Zingeser, senior project advisor for the Guinea Worm eradication program, and he taught us about the successes and further challenges for the program. The program has been very successful in eradicating guinea worm in humans; however, the program is now facing a new challenge after the discovery that frogs may be a paratenic host, and may be passing the larvae to many animals such as dogs and baboons, which may be perpetuating the guinea worm. 

With this being our final stop on our road trip, we were able to see many of the underlying themes of the Guinea Worm Eradication Program connect with what we have learned throughout the past 2 weeks. In order to be as successful as they are, the program had to gain the trust of each community they visited. They did this by working with community members and by giving them tools to prevent and contain the spread of the disease. Dr. Zingeser mentions how adequate communication is vital to keep the trust among the community and how it is hard to gain the trust, but easy to lose it. During our visit to the Veterinary School at Auburn, we learned about One Health, which can be applied to the guinea worm program and how relevant it is to understand our connection to our environment and everything in it.

Dr. Zingeser says that we are smarter together. This quote highlights how it is essential to bring all the various fields together in order to achieve health equity, to overcome social determinants of health, and to work in harmony towards the needs of population health.

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