Ending Guinea Worm Disease


Girls in Ghana carrying clean water.
Gates Foundation, via Flickr

Liz Waid and Joshua Leo look at a painful parasite disease. Guinea worm disease may be the first disease since smallpox to be completely stopped.

Transcript


Voice 1

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2

And I’m Joshua Leo. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1

Hyacinth Igelle is a farmer. He lives in Ogi, a village in Nigeria. The people in the village do not have very much money, but they work very hard. However, in 2005, Mr. Igelle was not able to work. His hand hurt very badly. Mr. Igelle had a painful disease. The disease was caused by a parasite, an organism living in his body. The parasite is called the guinea worm.

Voice 2

Today’s Spotlight is on guinea worm disease. In 2011, this terrible disease was ended in Nigeria. Many people hope that guinea worm will disappear everywhere by the year 2015.

Voice 1

The guinea worm begins life as a larva. The larvae are very small - people cannot even see them. They live in water with another small organism, the water flea. Water fleas eat the guinea worm larvae. Then the larvae infect the fleas. When a person in an affected area gathers drinking water, he also gathers the infected fleas. If he does not treat the water, and make it clean, the fleas enter his body. When the person’s body breaks down the flea, the guinea worm larvae are released. The larvae mate inside his body.

Voice 2

The male worm dies after mating, but the female worm stays in the body. The worm grows inside the person’s body. The female worm is long, thin and white. It can grow up to a meter long inside a person’s body! The worm usually moves to the lower parts of a person’s body. About a year later, the full grown female worm tries to leave the person’s body. It does this by releasing acid, a damaging chemical. This creates a blister, or wound, on the person’s body. The worm comes through the skin through this blister.

Voice 1

The blister is painful. It burns like a fire. The worm uses this pain to help it release its larvae. The victim wants to heal the burn with water. Usually, he will put the burning part of his body into water. But when the worm senses water, it releases a white cloud of larvae. In farm fields, the water is usually ponds, or other places that people collect drinking water. This is how the larvae enters the drinking water of villages.

Voice 2

Removing a worm from a person’s body is a long painful process. A person cannot remove the worm when it first comes through the skin. Since the worm is so long, it must be taken out slowly. If the worm breaks, the remaining part of the worm may cause a bad infection. The person must wrap the worm around a stick and pull it out a little bit every day. This may take weeks or even months to do.

Hyacinth Igelle told reporter Donald McNeil,

Voice 3

“The pain is like if you cut someone with a knife. It is like fire. It moves slowly, but you feel it even into your heart.”

Voice 1

Many communities have suffered from Guinea worm disease for a very long time. But for the past 20 years, communities in Africa and Asia have been fighting the Guinea worm. And they are winning the fight. Guinea worm disease may be the first disease since smallpox to be completely stopped.

Voice 2

Jimmy Carter is the former president of the United States. His organization now works in many countries. Guinea worm was one of his first projects. He saw the terrible pain it caused. But he also saw that there was very little money to fight it. The victims are almost always poor farmers. So in 1986, Carter decided to lead the fight against the Guinea worm. The Carter Center raised money to help educate and treat people living in areas affected by Guinea worm disease. The group also organized people to treat infected water supplies all over the world.

Voice 1

The Carter Center works very closely with villages. Guinea worm cannot be prevented with drugs. It can only be stopped through education. Mr. Igelle’s village, Ogi, is a good example. In that village, the Carter Center established a treatment center. There, villagers could get treatment for Guinea worm disease. This prevented them from spreading the disease to other people.

Voice 2

The Carter Center also had a health worker in Ogi. Jacob Ogebe taught the villagers how to avoid infection from the Guinea worm. Avoiding Guinea worm larvae is easy. The infected water fleas come from drinking water. People just have to pour the water through a filter cloth. The cloth stops the infected fleas. However, in affected areas, people must only drink filtered water - they must never drink water that has not been treated.

Voice 1

Avoiding the water fleas can be easy. But the Carter Center also wants to kill any existing Guinea worm. Carter Center workers do this in two ways. First, they educate people about the problem of putting infected arms and legs in drinking water. This prevents the worms from entering the water. The second way is by adding a chemical pesticide to the water. The pesticide kills only the small organisms that carry the Guinea worm larvae. The fish, plants and other animals living in the water are safe. The pesticide makes the water safe for people to drink.

Voice 2

This work ended the problem of Guinea worm disease in Ogi, and in Nigeria. And it has ended Guinea worm disease in many other countries too. Before the work of the Carter Center, Guinea worm was a problem in 21 countries in Central Africa and Asia. Today, most of those countries are Guinea worm free! In 1986, more than 3 milllion people had Guinea Worm disease. In 2011, just 1,000 people had Guinea Worm disease. There are only four countries that still suffer from this disease.

Voice 1

Communities in all of these countries have worked very hard to destroy the Guinea worm. Officials from the Carter Center think that in five years Guinea worm will be gone - no one will get Guinea worm again.

Voice 2

Stopping a disease takes a lot of effort. It takes cooperation, communication, and education. People in villages have worked together to protect their water. Local workers from the Carter Center have worked with villagers to educate them about the disease. And Carter Center officials have raised money to pay for research and tools for villages. Fighting a disease takes many people working together. And in this fight, everyone wins.

Voice 1

The writer of this program was Joshua Leo. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, ‘Ending Guinea Worm Disease’.

Voice 2

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

Is access to clean water a concern for your community? Where do you get clean water?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
marshal
said on January 17, 2014

Disease is terrible impact human’s health

Avatar Spotlight
paulo86nirisco
said on January 19, 2014

very good program and marvellous work of the former president Jimmy Carter thank you all.

Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on January 13, 2017

From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Severino Ramos)
To: spotlight programme
Subject: answer to the question above
Date: Friday 13, January 2017
São Paulo SP Brazil

Dear Liz Waid,Joshua Leo, and Michio Ozaki:

At first, I want to thank you for bringing us readers and learners of English more one great article, thanks!
Yes, It is.
I and everybody here in Brazil get clean water from the faucets. So, before, the water arrives at our houses It comes from a clean source of water. However,  it is treated by an important company called SABESP before arriving at our houses. So, we can drink and use that water without fear to get disease. If you want to know more information about that issue, please just search at http://www.sabesp.com.br Brazil.

Your regards,
Severino Ramos
Brazil