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Fighting Guinea worm – Disease plagues Sub-Sahara

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The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will give $28.5 million to three groups to eradicate Guinea worm disease globally by 2005, Reuters reports.

The Carter Center will get $15 million, the World Bank, $8.5 million, and the World Health Organization, $5 million.

All three groups will use the money to boost prevention programs that teach people to boil or filter drinking water.

Humans catch the disease from drinking infected water. Guinea worm larvae grow up to three feet long inside the host and then emerge a year later through a painful blister in the victim’s skin.

The disease remains common in 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Such programs already have reduced the incidence of the disease 97 percent over the last 14 years.

But two-thirds of the world’s estimated 100,000 annual cases of Guinea worm disease are in war-torn Sudan, where peace is needed before aid workers can reach affected areas.

Other countries with widespread cases of the disease are Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan, Togo and Uganda.

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