In some exciting news from South Sudan Wednesday, the Ministry of Health has reported seven consecutive months without a confirmed case of Guinea worm disease and introduced cash rewards for reported Guinea worm cases in South Sudan.
In a press release dated June 17, Ministry of Health Undersecretary Dr. Makur Matur Kariom said the last confirmed case was in October 2014. Despite the great achievement, Dr Kariom does advise that the task is not complete.
“Until there are zero cases of Guinea worm throughout South Sudan and the country is certified Guinea worm free, the government, the program and the communities will need to work tirelessly to detect and contain every case of Guinea worm.”
This is an amazing accomplishment for the same country that accounted for 56 percent of the 126 cases reported in 2014. In fact, less than one decade ago, South Sudan saw more than 20,000 cases.
Considered a neglected tropical disease, Guinea worm disease (dracunculiasis) is contracted when people consume water contaminated with Guinea worm larvae. After a year, a meter-long worm slowly emerges from the body through a painful blister in the skin. In the absence of a vaccine or medical treatment, the ancient disease is being wiped out mainly through community-based interventions to educate and change behavior, such as teaching people to filter all drinking water and preventing contamination by keeping anyone with an emerging worm from entering water sources.