Author: Lake Toba

Evening Focus: In Africa with The Carter Center, Part 2 – Safe Water

Americans often take clean water for granted. But in Africa, as The Carter Center’s Craig Withers explains, clean water can be hard to find. (More) This is Part 2 of my interview with Craig Withers, the Director of Program Support at The Carter Center. Last week in Part 1 we discussed political and cultural challenges The Carter Center faces in their efforts to eradicate Guinea worm disease. This week we discuss how The Carter Center helps people gain and maintain access to safer water as part of their Guinea worm eradication efforts. Next week our interview concludes with how The Carter Center responds to outbreaks of Guinea worm disease. Craig Withers has more than 20 years experience in public health policy. He received a Master of Business Administration in international business and a Master of Health Administration in health planning from Georgia State University, and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Notre Dame. His honors include awards for work done as special assistant to the deputy director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. +++++ LT: Access to clean water is essential to the eradication to the disease. Some of the tools mentioned are creating new wells, chemical treatment and filtration. What other steps do you take to enhance access to clean water? What challenges do...

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Evening Focus: In Africa with The Carter Center, Part 1

I had the pleasure to interview Craig Withers of The Carter Center about their work to eradicate Guinea Worm Disease in Africa. (More) Last month, as part of my Evening Focus series on Water Security, I offered a case study on Guinea Worm Disease. The conclusion of that case study highlighted the efforts of The Carter Center toward eradicating that disease. The Carter Center contacted me about that article, and set up an interview with Director of Program Support Craig Withers to explore their work in more detail. Craig Withers has more than 20 years experience in public health policy. He received a Master of Business Administration in international business and a Master of Health Administration in health planning from Georgia State University, and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Notre Dame. His honors include awards for work done as special assistant to the deputy director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We had a long and fascinating conversation. Tonight in Part 1, we discuss the political and cultural challenges of Guinea Worm Disease. Next Monday in Part 2, Mr. Withers will share The Carter Center’s efforts to provide access to clean drinking water. On August 1st in Part 3, we’ll talk about how The Carter Center works with other organizations to detect and respond...

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Evening Focus: Water Security, Part 5 – Case Study: Guinea Worm Disease (Conclusion)

Guinea Worm Disease may soon be eradicated worldwide. That won’t have been easy to do, and the difficulties highlight issues of water security. (More) Monday in Evening Focus we began our discussion of Guinea Worm Disease. We conclude this evening with a discussion of eradication efforts and some thoughts about how the struggle against Guinea Worm Disease reflects Water Security issues. Efforts at eradication At one time, the disease spread across equatorial Africa, and portions of southern Asia including Iran, Pakistan and the former USSR. The One of the earliest successful eradication efforts was achieved by the Soviet Union during the 1930s. But by the the 1950s the parasite still sickened approximately 50 million people. Iran completed eradication efforts in the 1970s. The global campaign to eradicate Guinea worm began in 1980 at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Guinea worm disease (GWD) eradication was targeted as an ideal indicator of success for the United Nations 1981-1990 International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade (IDWSSD) because the disease could only be transmitted through contaminated drinking water. A year later, GWD eradication was adopted as a sub-goal of the IDWSSD. In 1985, CDC was designated as the WHO Collaborating Center for Research, Training, and Eradication of Dracunculiasis. While support for eradication was felt to be strong in endemic countries, there were political and societal barriers to eradication...

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Evening Focus: Water Security, Part 4 – Case Study: Guinea Worm Disease (Introduction)

Today we will examine a case study of a waterborne parasite: Dracunculus medinensis, (a.k.a. Guinea Worm). Wednesday we will conclude with a discussion of efforts to eradicate this disease. (More) Guinea Worm Disease (Introduction) According to the World Health Organization: Guinea worm disease is a debilitating and painful infection caused by a large nematode (roundworm), Dracunculus medinensis. It begins with a blister, usually on the leg. Around the time of its eruption, the person may experience itching, fever, swelling and burning sensations. Infected persons try to relieve the pain by immersing the infected part in water, usually open water sources such as ponds and shallow wells. This stimulates the worm to emerge and release thousands of larvae into the water. The larva is ingested by a water flea (cyclops), where it develops and becomes infective in two weeks. When a person drinks the water, the cyclops is dissolved by the acidity of the stomach, and the larva is activated and penetrates the gut wall. It develops and migrates through the subcutaneous tissue. After about one year, a blister forms and the mature worm, 1m long, tries to emerge, thus repeating the life cycle. For persons living in remote areas with no access to medical care, healing of the ulcers can take several weeks. This can be further complicated by bacterial infection, stiff joints, arthritis and even permanent debilitating contractures...

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Evening Focus: Water Security, Part 3 – Sanitation

Water Security includes Sanitation – the ability to maintain freshwater quality so that it can be safely used for human purposes. This week we consider important issues affecting sanitation. (More) In developed countries, we take for granted access to clean water. We expect that water in the tap is drinkable (though many Americans have turned away from tap water in favor of bottled water). We take for granted that we can safely bathe, that our showers will not sicken us with disease or toxins. We understand that our waste water is properly handled. Our sewage is transported away from our habitats whether home or place of work to processing centers where it is cleaned to various federal, state and local regulation, and then reintroduced into the environment “somewhere else.” When we cook, wash our dishes, bathe or flush our toilets, we see wastewater disappear and think nothing further of it. That ability to ignore sanitation is a true luxury. It is a luxury because the vast majority of humans do not share in that facility. It is a luxury for us too, because even a hundred years ago, most Americans did not enjoy this ability. In fact, the need for public sanitation, as an important part of the infrastructure of civilization has been “known” and forgotten many times in history. Name practically any great civilization, and you name a...

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