To help eliminate the relatively few remaining cases of Guinea worm disease, the Carter Center has announced an eradication campaign to which the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) have pledged new grants totaling $55 million.
The Gates Foundation's $40 million commitment includes an $8 million grant and a one-to-one matching grant of $32 million, while DFID has pledged approximately $15 million (�10 million), which will be applied toward the match. Both the Gates and DFID grants will be shared between the Carter Center and the World Health Organization.
Poised to become the first disease in human history to be eliminated without a vaccine or medicine, Guinea worm disease is transmitted by drinking contaminated water and can be controlled through simple measures such as filtering all drinking water and educating people who are infected to take precautions to prevent transmission. To date, fewer than five thousand cases are believed to exist worldwide. When the eradication campaign began in 1986, there were an estimated 3.5 million cases in twenty African and Asian nations.
"Guinea worm is poised to be the second disease [after smallpox] eradicated from Earth, ending needless suffering for millions of people from one of the world's oldest and most horrific afflictions," said former President Jimmy Carter. "The reduction of Guinea worm cases by more than 99 percent proves that when people work together, great positive change is possible."