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Ingenious products help eliminate guinea worm disease, purify drinking water

Page history last edited by Rosemary 8 years, 5 months ago

"Guinea worm disease is poised to become the second disease ever to be eradicated. Not since smallpox was eliminated in the 1960's has humanity made this kind of progress in the field of eradication. Its global burden has been reduced by a staggering 99%, from over 3.5 million in the 1980's to only 10,000 in 2005.

"This good news is due in part to Vestergaard Frandsen's decade-long partnership with The Carter Center, established by US President Jimmy Carter. The Carter Center runs a program called Global 2000, which aims to eradicate Guinea worm disease.

"Guinea worm disease is more often referred to as dracunculiasis. When water infested with Guinea worm larvae is consumed, worms grow to several feet in length in the victim's body. Once mature, the Guinea worms make their way out of the body via painful skin blisters, taking two or three months to fully emerge. Unfortunately drugs cannot treat Guinea worm disease, but it can be prevented through the use of water filtration and proper sanitation measures.

"One of the primary interventions used in Global 2000 was a simple, household, cloth water filter. These filters were placed over water storage containers. When water passed through these cloth filters, the Guinea worm larvae would be detained from entering the drinking water. While this provided a convenient household solution, people outside the home, on their way to work or school, still caught the devastating disease.

"Enter the Vestergaard Frandsen pipe filters. These small, portable 'straws' have stainless steel filters which eliminate larvae, keeping users safe from Guinea worm disease whenever and wherever they drink water. Vestergaard Frandsen began supplying pipe filters for Global 2000 ten years ago.

"The filters are still in use today, with nearly 23 million of these lifesaving tools distributed to date in Sub-Saharan Africa. Many countries, including Sudan, Pakistan, Burkina Faso and Nigeria have watched their Guinea worm disease rates plummet as a direct result. Through committed partnership, Global 2000 and Vestergaard Frandsen's efforts have paid off - Guinea worm disease rates have fallen to near nonexistent levels.

"As a positive result, children who were formerly homebound due to the disease are now back in school learning to read and write. Farmers, once incapacitated, are now harvesting their crops and feeding their families. This is a case that highlights that with dedication, initiative and innovation, the terrible scourges that inflict pain and suffering on our brothers and sisters in the developing world can indeed be wiped off from the face of the earth.

"From a debilitating, painful condition affecting millions annually, Guinea worm disease is practically no more...

"Which disease will we eradicate next?"



Vestergaard Frandsen is an international, private sector company specializing in complex emergency response and disease control products that has turned humanitarian responsibility into its core business. It believes business should be for profit, but that profit must be for a larger purpose - and its purpose is to develop the most innovative, lifesaving products for the developing world.

The company has its headquarters in Switzerland and branch offices in Denmark, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Vietnam, USA and UAE, and laboratories and licensed production in Vietnam and Thailand. "We are committed to preventing the spread of disease by providing protection from waterborne, vector-borne and neglected tropical diseases," the company says. Its products include:

  • PermaNet┬« Bed nets and Curtains, which have a long-lasting killing effect on mosquitoes as well as other disease-transmitting vectors and together, can reduce the burden of malaria, dengue, filariasis, leishmaniasis, and Chagas disease. Safe to use for all, including pregnant women and young children.
  • Point-of-use water purifiers that help people get access to safe drinking water at home and outside. LifeStraw┬« Family is an instant microbiological purifier that delivers 18,000 litres of EPA-quality drinking water. LifeStraw┬« Personal is a portable water purifier that filters 700 litres of water and protects users against diarrhoeal diseases.

The Guinea worm disease success story and pictures, and the information about the company, come from the Vestergaard Frandsen website. Also see: Profit from poverty: Turning victims into consumers, 6 Feb. 2009, SciDev.Net, Source: International Herald Tribune.


More stories about water purification:

Solar water disinfection saves lives, money in largest Kenyan slum

Common plants could purify water sustainably in developing world

South African scientists find green method to purify toxic water  

Tamil Nadu group finds simple way to purify drinking water

Gardens purify wastewater, feed families in Sri Lanka

South African university develops tea bag size filter to purify water

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