Eradicating Guinea Worm Disease and River Blindness in Africa and South America

      In an interview with BBC News on February 3, former U.S. president Jimmy Carter set a goal of eradicating guinea worm disease (dracunculiasis) within the next two to three years.  Guinea worm is a painful and potentially fatal parasitic disease transmitted through drinking water contaminated with the roundworm.  Carter noted in the interview that his organization, The Carter Center, has struggled at times to provide preventive and treatment technologies to some of the most-affected regions because of logistical challenges facing NGOs in zones of conflict.  

 

      The Carter Center has also set a longer-term goal for the eradication of river blindness (onchocerciasis), another disease caused by roundworm parasites.  River blindness is spread through black fly bites and causes severe itching throughout the body in addition to loss of sight.  The Carter Center reports that the parasite's spread has been halted in many regions where it was formerly endemic, but the disease remains a serious concern in areas of the Brazilian and Venezuelan Amazon as well as in most of sub-Saharan Africa.  

 

      The GIC has compiled sets of public domain innovation related to the prevention and treatment of both guinea worm disease and river blindness. 

 

      The Carter Center identified South Sudan, Ethiopia, Chad, and Mali as the countries most in need of an elevated response to guinea worm.  The GIC set includes between 500 and 600 pieces of public domain innovation in each of these jurisdictions.  

 

      For river blindness, the Carter Center highlighted its efforts to combat the parasite in Sudan and Uganda, where the GIC has identified nearly 400 pieces of public domain innovation, as well as in Brazil, with over 300 documents, and Venezuela, representing a particularly open innovation environment with nearly 650 identified documents.  

 

Follow these links to view the full GIC sets by country for guinea worm disease and river blindness:

http://www.globalinnovationcommons.org/discover/subcategory/dracunculias...

http://www.globalinnovationcommons.org/discover/subcategory/onchocerciasis

 

 

Sources:

The Carter Center. "Onchocerciasis Elimination Program for the Americas." http://www.cartercenter.org/health/river_blindness/oepa.html

Dreaper, Jane. "Former president's mission to eradicate guinea worm." BBC News. 3 Feb. 2015. http://www.bbc.com/news/health-31100890

World Health Organization. "Onchocerciasis Fact Sheet No. 374." March 2014. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs374/en/

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