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Eradicating Guinea Worm

© UNICEF/india/2006
Guinea worm extraction.

1980s - 40,000 Indians suffered from an agonising disease caused by guinea worms – parasites which grow to more than a metre in length, leaving their hosts bed-ridden and often destitute.

1983 - India launched the world’s first National Guinea Worm Eradication Programme.

The population at risk - five million people across 7 states - was generally poor, illiterate and living in remote communities.

 The success of the programme depended on all sectors working together:

  • Thousands of step wells and ponds, sources of contaminated water, were sealed and safe water sources were provided

  •   Massive campaigns were launched to ensure the public supported the project.

  •   Health camps were set up where guinea worms could be extracted. (This project was instrumental in getting the surgical extraction of guinea worms accepted in India and thereafter globally.)

    In the year 2000 the WHO certified that India was guinea worm free.

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