An eight-country delegation, including seven African nations, has pledged to take all necessary measures to interrupt transmission of guinea worm disease and certify its eradication by 2030.
Several dignitaries, including members of the United Nations, endorsed the Abu Dhabi Declaration on the Eradication of Guinea Worm Disease to ensure the disease became the first human disease eliminated since smallpox in 1980.
The declaration was signed by leaders from Chad, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Angola, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Cameroon at the UAE’s presidential palace, Qasr Al Watan.
Abu Dhabi Declaration was adopted at the conclusion of the 2022 Guinea Worm Summit, a three-day summit co-hosted by The Carter Center and Reaching the Last Mile, a portfolio of programs working toward disease elimination that are driven by Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.
During the summit, dignitaries from formerly endemic countries and partner countries offered support to the nations where the disease persists. Donor countries and organizations also reaffirmed their commitment to supporting the campaign.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation, and Sheikh Shakhboot bin Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of State, stood in solidarity with these countries. The Global Institute for Disease Elimination (GLIDE) and Pure Health provided additional support.
A total of 15 human cases of Guinea worm disease were reported in four countries in 2021. A total of 3.5 million cases are thought to occur annually in 21 countries when The Carter Center took over the eradication campaign in 1986.
“Thanks to the commitment of The Carter Center and partners around the world, we have made incredible progress towards ending Guinea worm disease – but the work is not over. This week we were honoured to convene global champions of the eradication effort in Abu Dhabi to renew our shared commitment towards reaching that last mile of disease eradication,” said Sheikh Shakhboot bin Nahyan Al Nahyan, Minister of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
“It is a privilege to continue the legacy of the founder of our nation, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who believed no one should suffer from a preventable disease. Reaching the last mile of Guinea worm disease cannot come soon enough.”
Guinea worm disease is a devastating disease that renders people incapacitated for extended periods of time, preventing them from taking care of themselves, working, growing food for their families, or attending school.
It is contracted by drinking water that contains Guinea worm larvae. An adult Guinea worm slowly emerges from the skin after creating a painful lesion a year later. Patients may seek relief by immersing their affected limbs in water, which stimulates the worm to release its larvae and renews the cycle of infection.
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