The Carter Center is continuing its quest to eradicate Guinea worm disease in African countries after completing a $45 million challenge grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and 500 partners in the past two years.

The Gates Foundation gave the Carter Center $5 million in April 2005 and pledged to match one-to-one all contributions to the campaign up to $20 million over four years. Carter Center donors and partners completed the challenge in two years.

An additional $35 million is still needed to complete the eradication of Guinea worm disease. The Guinea worm eradication campaign has raised and invested an estimated $225 million to date.

Contributors to the challenge grant included the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Leventis Foundation, Woodbury Foundation, the Franklin Mint, American Red Cross, YKK Corp., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USAID, BASF, World Air Holdings, Inc./North American Airlines passengers and the governments of Canada, Japan, Kuwait, Norway, Oman, and Saudi Arabia. The final contribution was donated by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.

The Carter Center and partners continue to fight the last fraction of 1 percent of Guinea worm disease. Since 1986, it has been reduced from an estimated 3.5 million cases to 25,217 cases in 2006 in nine African countries. Some 98 percent of the remaining cases are in Ghana and Sudan.

Guinea worm is a parasitic water-borne disease transmitted by drinking contaminated water. The disease can be controlled by filtering all drinking water and educating infected people on how to prevent transmission. Guinea worm will be the first disease to be eradicated without medicines or vaccines.

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