Stakeholders of EDEP said Ethiopia is on the right track to eradicate Guinea-Worm once and for all and is expected to be declared free by 2019.

By Abiy Hailu (The Ethiopian Herald) |

Ethiopia said on right track to eradicate guinea worm

Stakeholders of the Ethiopian Dracunculiasis (Guinea-Worm) Eradication Program (EDEP) said the country is on the right track to eradicate Guinea-Worm once and for all and is expected to be declared free by 2019 by international organizations.

In a joint press conference Monday, the stakeholders said that the number of reported cases has been reduced to only three in 2015 and no case has been reported for the last six months.

Honorable World Laureate Dr. Tebebe Yemane-Berhan, member of Board of Trustees for Lions Club International Foundation representing Africa and Goodwill Ambassador for EDEP, on the occasion said that the program is the longest of all guinea worm eradication program and it has taken Ethiopia more than 24 years to reach the level where it is now. “Since the disease has no medication, the only way to treat patients is through isolation,” he said.

“It has taken us 24 years because we have not been able to fully involve communities. As the number of infected people is reduced, it makes it difficult to conduct surveillance. This makes the last chapter of the eradication program more challenging. In order to get certified, we need to extensively raise the awareness of the public in all areas of the country,”he added.

Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI) Director General Dr. Amha Kebede on his part said that the last case of the disease was reported six months ago in October, yet it will take up to three to four years to be internationally certified. This requires to raise the awareness of the public even in areas where the disease has been fully eradicated. Because the international certification team requires three consecutive surveillance years in order to declare a country free from the disease.

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The stakeholders noted that the program has also been working extensively in unison to control imported cases from neighboring South Sudan. According to them, one of the reasons to be confident to eradicate the disease at the right time table is that South Sudan has also been registering an encouraging result in the eradication effort that the number of reported cases has reached only five in 2015.

EDEP has been implemented in Ethiopia for the last 24 years through the concerted efforts of the government, World Health Organization and the Carter Center. In 1994, there were 1,225 cases reported when the program was launched.

Ethiopia, Chad, Mali and South Sudan are the last countries having recent reported cases of guinea worm, one of the neglected tropical diseases. Currently, the Abobo and Goge Woredas of Gambella State are the only areas in Ethiopia to report the cases.

Source: The Ethiopian Herald
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