Real Life Story
Faces of Hope
In a makeshift Guinea worm care center in Savelugu-Nanton, Ghana, 6-year-old Lukma receives treatment for a worm emerging from a blister on the top of his left foot. Abukari Abukari, a local health worker, questions Lukma's mother about her water-filtering practices, reminding her that she must filter all of the family's drinking water to prevent diseases from occurring.
Lukma whimpers while Abukari massages the infected wound and rolls the emerging worm into a roll of gauze, inch by agonizing inch. The worm has been breaking through Lukma's skin for one week, and today Abukari is able to coax out 2 inches of what will probably be a 3-foot worm. Removing a Guinea worm is a long and painful process taking weeks, sometimes months. Abukari requests to see Lukma again in a few days. Lukma is told to stay out of the water until the worm has been completely removed. An emerging worm will release hundreds of thousands of eggs into the water.
To help break the cycle of infection, health workers like Abukari continue to educate their communities about the cases of the disease and teach neighbors how to use simple filters to strain Guinea worm larvae from their drinking water.
The Carter Center leads the international coalition fighting Guinea worm disease. When our efforts began in 1986, an estimated 3.5 million people were infected with another 120 million at risk. Today, the number of cases of this painful affliction has been reduced by more than 99.9%.