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The Ethiopian Drancunculiasis Eradication Program (EDEP), the Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI) and The Carter Center officially launched the national health communications campaign titled "Let Our Journey Not Be Interrupted by Guinea Worm" at EPHI's Training Center on December 8, 2017. The campaign aims to increase awareness about Guinea Worm Disease (GWD) and encourage reporting suspected cases.
According to the organizers of the campaign, the reward for reporting a GWD case has been raised from 2,000 to 10,000 birr.
Dr. Feyssa Regassa, EPHI's Acting Deputy Director General welcomed the guests on behalf of EPHI and invited the guest of honour to deliver the opening speech.
The Most Honourable World Laureate Dr. Tebebe Berhan, Guinea Worm Eradication Program (GWEP) Goodwill Ambassador for Ethiopia, South Sudan, Chad and Mali in his opening speech underlined that the best means to eradicate Guinea Worm is to use only clean water as the other countries employed to eradicate the disease.
Dr. Dean G. Sienko, Vice President for Health Programs of The Carter Center in his part welcomed the launch of the communications campaign in line with the beginning of the final chapter in eradicating the Guinea Worm from Ethiopia.
"The good news in Ethiopia is that in 2016 we had three human cases, all in unique and different areas of Gambella. None of these three cases led to additional cases in 2017. Unfortunately, we identified 14 human cases all associated with farm laborers in Gambella. These laborers were infected because they did not have access to clean water," said Dr. Dean G. Sienko.
To celebrate the launch of Let Our Journey Not Be Interrupted by Guinea Worm campaign a high level ceremony at EPHI unveiled the suite of audio-visual campaign materials including posters, radio jingles and a comedy drama. In addition to these a testimony was made by a person who was infected by GWD and was cured after revealing himself to health proffessionals in Gambella. Also the participants, including the Student Scout members, entered an oath to contribute their parts in eradicating the disease from the country.
The Ethiopian Dracunculiasis Eradication Program (EDEP) is led by the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) with the partnership from The Carter Center and others. Strategic approaches to change behavior and mobilize communities to drink safe water in high-risk areas include distribution of nylon filters to strain out the water fleas that host the Guinea Worm larvae; voluntary isolation of patients in case containment centers; advocacy with water organisations for provision of safe sources of drinking water; and mobilization of community-elected village volunteers trained by the EDEP to carry out monthly surveillance and health education.