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:




The Carter Center. "Onchocerciasis Elimination Program for the Americas."

Dreaper, Jane. "Former president's mission to eradicate guinea worm." BBC News. 3 Feb. 2015.

World Health Organization. "Onchocerciasis Fact Sheet No. 374." March 2014.

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Drought and Food Security in Brazil

      January 28-29, 2015 saw the third annual summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in San José, Costa Rica.  The summit was attended by 21 heads of state from across the region.  Included in its plan of action was a resolution to implement a plan submitted to CELAC by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which set a goal of eliminating hunger in the region by 2025.  The threat to regional food security posed by climate change was one of four key strategic points identified in the plan. 


      In the midst of the summit, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva detailed the effects of climate change on food security in his home nation of Brazil.  In an interview with BBC Brasil, Graziano da Silva discussed how food prices have been driven up by shortages of staple crops like wheat and sugarcane.  The cause is an historic drought which has lingered over south-central Brazil since 2013, leading to a rainfall deficit of nearly one meter (39 inches).  The Director-General identified increased efforts to develop and implement drought-resistant crop technologies as one key to mitigating the effects of future droughts.  He cited ongoing research on this subject by the Ministry of Agriculture’s Brazilian Corporation of Agricultural Research (Embrapa).


      The Global Innovation Commons has compiled a list of public domain technologies useful in drought-resistant crop development.  190 of these technologies are public domain in Brazil.  View the entire GIC set on Drought Resistant Technology by country here:


      Additional opportunities for public domain research exist in the patent portfolios of major multinational agriculture firms.  For example, Monsanto holds over 2,300 patents on varieties of drought-resistant seed and the expression of drought resistance genes; however, none of these patents have legal protection in the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean (with the exception of French Guiana).  These patents cover drought-resistant seed and plants or gene expression for many of the region’s important crops, including corn, wheat, rice, potatoes, sugarcane, soybeans, canola, and cotton.



Community of Latin American and Caribbean States. "Plan de Acción de la CELAC 2015." 29 Jan. 2015.


Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. “FAO presents plan for eradicating hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean.” 27 Jan. 2015.


Fellet, João. “Falta d'água ameaça segurança alimentar no Brasil, diz chefe da FAO.” BBC Brasil. 2 Feb. 2015.

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Wacky Technology Wednesday: Izhar Gafni creates a bike from cardboard

A few weeks ago, Gizmag ( covered the story of Izhar Gafhi, who recently designed and prototyped a bicycle built from cardboard.  In its current design, it cots US $12 to build, can withstand moisture/water/humidity, and can support riders weighing up to 485 pounds.   Additionally, Gafhi uses recycled car tiers for the tires and repurposes a car timing belt as the bike chain.  In Integral Accounting terms, Ganfi has done a spectacular job repurposing the abundance in his environment.  His background video is worth a watch:

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