Dracunculiasis, Onchocerciasis, Schistosomiasis, and Trachoma


Address for correspondence: Donald R. Hopkins, M.D., MPH, Vice President—Health Programs, The Carter Center, 453 Freedom Pkwy., Atlanta, GA 30307. Voice: 404-420-3837; fax: 404-874-5515.


The four diseases discussed in this chapter (dracunculiasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, and trachoma) are among the officially designated “Neglected Tropical Diseases,” and each is also both the result of and a contributor to the poverty of many rural populations. To various degrees, they all have adverse effects on health, agricultural productivity, and education. The Carter Center decided to work on these health problems because of their adverse effect on the lives of poor people and the opportunity to help implement effective interventions. As a result of the global campaign spearheaded by the Carter Center since 1986, the extent of dracunculiasis has been reduced from 20 to five endemic countries and the number of cases reduced by more than 99%. We have helped administer nearly 20% of the 530 million Mectizan (ivermectin) doses for onchocerciasis, which is now being controlled throughout most of Africa, and is progressing toward elimination in the Americas. Since 1999, two Nigerian states have been using village-based health workers originally recruited to work on onchocerciasis to also deliver mass treatment and health education for schistosomiasis and lymphatic filariasis. They now also distribute vitamin A supplements and bed nets to prevent malaria and lymphatic filariasis. Ethiopia aims to eliminate blinding trachoma in the Amhara Region of that highest-endemicity country by 2012, already constructing more than 300,000 latrines and other complementary interventions. Because of the synergy between these diseases and poverty, controlling or eliminating the disease also reduces poverty and increases self-reliance.