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Ars Pharmaceutica (Internet)

On-line version ISSN 2340-9894


ADROHER, Francisco Javier. The fight against the Guinea worm or the reward of the solidarity endeavor. Ars Pharm [online]. 2016, vol.57, n.4, pp.153-165. ISSN 2340-9894.

Introduction: Dracunculus medinensis or Guinea worm is the largest nematode parasite in man and causes ulcers that generate a major disability generally for 2-4 months, coinciding with the periods of planting or harvesting of the crops. Therefore, this disease, denominated dracunculiasis, causes important economic losses. In poor societies, those most affected, these losses keep them in a vicious circle of poverty from which they can not leave without help. Dracunculiasis is one of a group of Neglected Tropical Diseases that, according to the WHO, affects more than 1 billion poor people in the world. Objective: Introduce to the Spanish-speaking scientific community about the current status of the dracunculiasis and its fight against it. Material and methods: A bibliographic search has been carried out in scientific databases, especially PubMed (Medline) of the National Library of Medicine (NML) of the United States, and the reports published by the main organisms and institutions involved in the fight against dracunculiasis have been reviewed, especially those of The Carter Center, the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Results: An eradication campaign was initiated in 1986, based on the epidemiological characteristics of the disease and the involvement of endemic countries, which allowed to raise that objective, adopted by the World Health Assembly in 1981. This parasite was occurring in 18 countries of Africa and 3 of Asia, affecting 5-10 million poor people, according to WHO. The solidarity effort of institutions, foundations, companies and people, especially volunteers, has allowed to reduce the number of cases in more than 99.99% after 30 years of campaign. In 2015, only 22 cases limited to 4 African countries were recorded: Mali, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Chad. In 2016, 25 cases have been detected: 16 in Chad, 3 in Ethiopia, 6 in South Sudan and none in Mali (provisional data1). Conclusion: It works in the hope that in 2020 the disease will be eradicated from the planet, thus being the first of a parasite. This fight also shows that the health education work on the affected population, carried out jointly by volunteers and officials, is vital to the success of this eradication campaign.

Keywords : Guinea worm; dracunculiasis; Dracunculus medinensis; life cycle; poverty; volunteering; solidarity; health education; eradication.

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