New Year Brings New Hope
By Dr. Kashef Ijaz, Vice President-Health, The Carter Center
As we flip the calendar from 2022 to 2023, there is reason to be optimistic about many aspects of public health.
Every January, The Carter Center brings news of progress during the previous year in the long battle against Guinea worm disease. I’m not going to scoop our announcement, which is coming soon, but I can tell you we have good news to report as we continue the march to eradication.
Meanwhile, our work to combat river blindness in partnership with the ministries of health in Nigeria, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Sudan is paying off in a big way. The Carter Center assists the ministries in training people to distribute the drug Mectizan® (donated by Merck & Co., Inc., Rahway, New Jersey). As little as one dose a year can stop the progress of river blindness and allow people to live full and productive lives. And as a result, we are seeing significant progress that encourages us to keep going.
In Central and South America, we have helped eliminate river blindness from four countries (Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, and Guatemala). The disease is now limited to remote Yanomami communities in the Amazon rainforest along the Brazil-Venezuela border. There we continue to support the training of indigenous health workers to carry health education and Mectizan to the Yanomami people.
In Mali, where insecurity is a near-constant challenge, the eye disease trachoma has been eliminated as a public health problem, an accomplishment whose magnitude cannot be overstated.
The influence of the Carter Center’s Mental Health Program continues to grow in Liberia, and in the U.S. in 2023 we can expect to see the benefits begin to accrue from major mental health legislation passed in Georgia in 2022.
These are just a few of the highlights. The point is that good things are happening in global health, and the new year affords us the opportunity to build on that positive momentum. It will be our pleasure to report good news as it happens.
Happy New Year.