Donald Hopkins

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NYTimes profiles a dragon slayer, Donald Hopkins, and his fight against guinea worm | 

A woman in Nigeria endures the painful extraction of Guinea worm
A woman in Nigeria endures the painful extraction of Guinea worm
Mike Urban, mikeurban.photoshelter.com

The NY Times’ Don McNeil has done a great profile of a global health champion, Donald Hopkins – the man who has led the successful campaign to rid the world of one of nature’s most disturbing parasitic diseases.

Guinea worm. I’ve written about this disease many times, seen people afflicted with it and years ago met a woman who was Nigeria’s last case. Jimmy Carter, whose philanthropy the Carter Center has sponsored Hopkins’ work, was recently talking about guinea worm with comedian Jon Stewart on the Daily Show. This painful, debilitating disease used to afflict millions of people every year.

Thanks to Hopkins and the Carter Center, it’s today down to few hundred cases remaining in the Sudan.

How Jimmy Carter became a serpent slayer and global health pioneer | 

Tom Paulson

President Jimmy Carter speaks at World Affairs Council 60th Anniversary event

Former President Jimmy Carter is in Seattle, having spoken last night at the World Affairs Council’s 60th anniversary celebration and speaking today at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation about Guinea worm.

Mike Urban, mikeurbanart.com

A Nigerian woman with Guinea Worm

Guinea worm is a human parasite that eats its way through the human body and emerges a year later, incapacitating people with the pain of completing its life cycle. It’s horrible.

I’ve seen people with Guinea worm in Africa. Over the years, I’ve also seen what Jimmy Carter and his team at the Carter Center have done to come close now to completely ridding the world of this horrific disease.

It’s a great story, and perhaps of much broader significance to global health than many might realize.

Earlier this week, the Gates Foundation, major pharmaceutical companies and others announced a major $$785 million push against “neglected tropical diseases.” This was celebrated by Bill Gates, World Health Organization chief Margaret Chan and others as a critical turning point in global health. The Carter Center got some of the loot, $40 million of it, to finish off Guinea worm.

But in one sense, this push against neglected diseases got a good first shove nearly 30 years ago by Jimmy Carter. One look at the Carter Center’s website shows they got to this point, of recognizing the need to fight neglected diseases, decades ago.

Diseases like river blindness, Guinea worm, parasitic (lymphatic) elephantiasis and schistosomiasis have been in Carter’s cross hairs since the mid-1980s. Continue reading