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President Carter Visits Africa, Urges Leaders to Intensify Global Health Promotion

CONTACT: In Atlanta, Emily Staub
Phone: 1-404-420-5126

ATLANTA....Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter will call international attention to global health needs among impoverished communities in Mali, Nigeria, and Ethiopia when he leads a delegation including his wife, Rosalynn, senior level Carter Center officials including Board of Trustee Chairman John Moores and Executive Director Dr. John Hardman, and Emory University President Dr. James Wagner to Africa on Sept. 9-15.

"We believe good health is a basic human right, especially among poor people afflicted with disease who are isolated, forgotten, ignored, and often without hope. Yet, so many diseases are easily preventable like Guinea worm, river blindness, and trachoma. We have the tools and knowledge to stop future suffering from these crippling plagues of poverty and the moral obligation to do so," explains Jimmy Carter, former U.S. president, 2002 Nobel Laureate, and co-founder of The Carter Center.

During the three-country tour, a trip that has been in the works for more than nine months, the delegation will meet with leaders and decision makers, from the community to national level, to urge countries to make health programming a higher government priority and intensify their efforts to fight disabling and preventable diseases, such as Guinea worm, river blindness, and trachoma. The delegation will also receive updates on current Carter Center in-country activities.

Working in Africa and Latin America, the Carter Center's health programs enhance quality of life by focusing on infectious disease control and prevention, Guinea worm disease eradication, health education expansion, and agricultural training to improve crop yields. Community mobilization and empowerment activities build hope among the world's poorest people, alleviating unnecessary suffering, and helping people transform their own lives.

In Mali: As of July 2005, Mali is the third most Guinea worm-endemic country remaining in the world, following Sudan and Ghana. Poised to be the second disease to be eradicated, after smallpox, Guinea worm is an ancient parasitic disease contracted when people consume contaminated water. Great strides are being made in Mali. The national program in conjunction with The Carter Center, has reduced Guinea worm disease by 98 percent since the program began: from 16,024 reported cases in 1991 to 354 cases in 2004. Continued commitment to simple prevention measures such as health education and the use of nylon water filters will enable Mali to stop transmission in the next few years. Today, through the effort of The Carter Center and its partners, the numbers of Guinea worm disease have been reduced worldwide by more than 99.5 percent: from an estimated 3.5 million cases in 1986 to 16,026 reported cases in 2004. We are now fighting the last fraction of 1 percent of Guinea worm disease. In partnership with the government of Mali, the Center also fights trachoma and is improving agriculture production.

In Nigeria: Nigeria, a nation with one of the highest burdens of disease in the world, is host to nearly all of the Carter Center's health programs, several of which have integrated their delivery systems to better treat people living in co-endemic areas. Today, through the hard work of the Nigeria Ministry of Health, The Carter Center, and other partners, more Nigerian children are protected from the parasite schistosomiasis that causes damage to their developing organs and more adults are no longer at risk for the crippling river blindness and trachoma their parents suffered. A horrifically disabling illness-lymphatic filariasis-is being targeted for control and Guinea worm eradication is on Nigeria's horizon. Once the most Guinea worm-endemic country in the world, reporting more than 653,000 in 1989, it is possible the nation will report less than a few hundred cases this year. When paired with agricultural development programming in the nation, many of the most neglected communities in Nigeria are becoming empowered to build a brighter future for themselves.

In Ethiopia: Working in partnership with the ministries of health, education and agriculture, The Carter Center's relationship with Ethiopia has been diverse, having assisted the nation with disease eradication and control programs, health education, food security development, conflict mediation, election monitoring, and the promotion of human rights. The Carter Center's work in Ethiopia to control a bacterial infection called trachoma, which is the world's leading cause of preventable blindness is noteworthy. The rate of blindness in Ethiopia is thought to be the highest in the world, a primary cause of which is trachoma. To reduce transmission of trachoma, The Carter Center began promoting latrines. The object was to construct 10,000 new latrines last year, but 89,000 were built in the Amhara Region alone. It is estimated 240,000 latrines will be erected this year. The Amhara Regional Health Bureau has and continues to demonstrate its commitment to controlling trachoma. The hard work continues to benefit millions of Ethiopians whose sight is being preserved.

Working with seven Ethiopian universities, The Ethiopia Public Health Training Initiative is pairing Ethiopian teaching staff with international experts to develop curricula and learning materials for health promotion based on local experience. Teachers and professors are using these materials to train health students, who, in turn, train and manage community health workers, building a community health infrastructure to improve health outcomes and access to care. The Center also fights Guinea worm disease and river blindness, as well as improves agriculture in the country.

For more information on the Carter Center's activities in Mali, Nigeria, and Ethiopia visit the Carter Center's Activities-by-Country page:

For further information on President Carter's trip, please call Emily Staub via e-mail:


The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide. A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, the Center has helped to improve life for people in more than 65 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; improving mental health care; and teaching farmers to increase crop production. To learn more about The Carter Center and Guinea worm disease, please visit:

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