- Profile - Guinea Worm Eradication Program

(Photo Credit: The Carter Center / J. Hahn)

Guinea Worm Eradication Program

Essentials of the Program

Started in 1980.
Covered Countries:
Current (5): Angola, Chad, Ethiopia, Mali, South Sudan
Stopped transmission and/or pre-certification (2): Sudan, *DRC
Certified Guinea worm-free (16): Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cote d'lvoire, Ghana, *India, Kenya, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Togo, Uganda, Yemen
Leading Organization: The Carter Center
Key Partners: National governments, local communities, and many local, national, and international partners, including WHO, CDC, and UNICEF.


1980 Smallpox is certified eradicated and is the first disease eradicated in history; the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), under the leadership of Dr. Donald Hopkins, begins to explore the eradication of the second human disease, Guinea worm.
1986 Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter becomes the champion for the eradication of an obscure neglected disease, Guinea worm.
The Carter Center, under the leadership of Dr. Hopkins, assumes leadership of the global campaign and begins activities in Pakistan (certified as eliminated in 1996).
1988 Launched in Nigeria (certified in 2013), Ghana (certified in 2015) and Kenya (certified in 2018).
1989 in Cameroon (certified in 2013).
1991 in Ethiopia (currently endemic).
1992 in Burkina Faso (certified in 2011) and Senegal (certified in 2004).
1993 in Benin (certified in 2009) and Chad (currently endemic).
1995 in Cote D’Ivoire (certified in 2013), Mauritania (certified in 2009), Yemen (certified in 2004), and Sudan (transmission stopped in 2002; preparing application*).
1996 in Uganda (certified in 2009).
2000 in Central African Republic (certified in 2007).
2002 in Togo (certified in 2011).
2003 in Mali (currently endemic).
2011 in South Sudan, programmatic activities continue as it becomes the world’s newest country (currently endemic).
2018 Reported in Angola (currently endemic).
2022* The Democratic Republic of the Congo (submitted application for certification; results pending).

* The WHO is the only organization that can officially certify the elimination or eradication of any disease.
* To date, the World Health Organization (WHO) has certified 199 countries free of Guinea worm; only seven have not been certified, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where no case has been reported since 1958. The DRC has submitted, and Sudan intends to submit its dossier for certification in 2022.
* When transmission is interrupted, The Carter Center provides continued assistance in surveillance and helps endemic countries prepare for official evaluation by the independent International Commission for the Certification of Dracunculiasis Eradication and certification by the WHO. The CDC provides technical assistance and verifies that worm specimens truly are Guinea worms.
* Early in the campaign, in 1983, India launched its own program, reporting its last indigenous case in 1996. India was certified in 2000.

Honors and Awards

A Selection of Awards Received by Members of the Guinea Worm Eradication Program (by recipient)

The Carter Center
2006 Gates Award for Global Health, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
2017 Recognizing Excellence Around Champions of Health (REACH) Awards bestowed by H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
- Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter: Lifetime Achievement Award
- Dr. Nabil Aziz Awad Alla (Sudan): Courage Award
- Dr. Adamu Keana Sallau (Nigeria): Last Mile Award
- Ms. Regina Lotubai Lomare Lochilangole (South Sudan): Unsung Hero Award
- Mr. Daniel Madit Kuol Madut, South Sudan: Unsung Hero Award
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, founder, The Carter Center
2002 -Nobel Peace Prize
Mr. Adam Weiss, M.P.H., Director, Guinea Worm Eradication Program
2016 -Charles C. Shepard Award, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University
Mr. Craig Withers, M.B.A., M.H.A., Vice President for Carter Center Overseas Operations and longtime Guinea worm warrior
2015 -Albert Bandura Award as an Influencer, Vital Smarts, Inc.
2017 -Certificate of Appreciation, government of South Sudan for contributions to the eradication of Guinea worm
Dr. Donald R. Hopkins, Special Advisor for Guinea Worm Eradication
1983 -CDC Medal of Excellence (*Distinguished Service Medal of the U.S. Public Health Service)
1998 -Knight of the National Order of Mali
2004 -Medal of Honor of Public Health (Gold), Niger
2005 -Champion of Public Health, Tulane University
2007 -Mectizan Award, Merck Inc.
2007 -James F. and Sarah T. Fries Foundation Prize for Improving Health
2012 -Pumphandle Award for Outstanding Contributions to Applied Epidemiology, Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists
2012 - Honorary doctorates from Harvard University, Yale University, Morehouse College, and Emory University
Dr. Ernesto Ruiz-Tiben, Ph.D., Former Director (1998-2008), Guinea Worm Eradication Program
1990 -Outstanding Service Medal, CDC
2017 -Certificate of Appreciation, Government of South Sudan for contributions to the eradication of Guinea worm
Ms. Kelly Callahan, Director, Carter Center’s Trachoma Control Program and longtime Guinea worm warrior
2017 -2017 Sargent Shriver Award for Distinguished Humanitarian Service, U.S. Peace Corps
Dr. Emmanuel S. Miri, Country Director Nigeria, Carter Center Health Programs
2012 -Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Abuja
Dr. Abdulrahman A. Al-Awadi, Kuwait
2011 -Award from His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah for his 30 years of service to Kuwait.

Major Publications

Peer-review publishing and operational research:

Beginning with its Guinea Worm Eradication Program, The Carter Center has built a reputation for pioneering operational research, often while both implementing and evaluating interventions through the publication of findings in the peer-reviewed literature. These hundreds of scholarly publications have demonstrated success, described challenges, contributed to local and global best practices, and informed WHO guidelines.

Similarly, hundreds of earned media stories have been placed and dozens of human interest stories have been collected in various formats to document the Guinea Worm Eradication Program’s journey to zero.

Here are five examples
1. Eberhard, Mark L., et al., “The Peculiar Epidemiology of Dracunculiasis in Chad.” American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, vol. 90, no. 1, 2014, pp. 61-70.
2. Priest, Jeffrey W., et al., “Development of a Multiplex Bead Assay for the Detection of Canine IgG4 Antibody Response to Guinea Worm.” American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, vol. 104, no. 1, 2021, pp. 303-312.
3. Ribado, Jessica V., et al., “Linked surveillance and genetic data uncovers programmatically relevant geographic scale of Guinea worm transmission in Chad.” PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, vol 15, no. 7.
4. Wuilbercq, Emeline, ‘“End is in sight’: tackling a rare disease in a global pandemic.” Thomson Reuters Foundation News. 29 April 2021.
5. “Guinea Worm Warrior’s Weapon is a Song.” The Carter Center. 24 August 2021.