Jimmy Carter is by far the best ex-president the United States has ever had,
and he underscored that again this morning by announcing that Guinea Worm cases
have reached an all-time low. For those of you who have never heard of it,
Guinea Worm is one of the worst parasites you can get. The worms burrow inside
of you, grow to almost three feet long, are incredibly painful, and finally pop
out of the skin and have to be reeled out, inch by inch, over many days. They
are an ancient affliction in tropical countries, but Carter has led an effort to
Today he announces that Guinea Worm is down to 5,000 cases worldwide — mostly in Sudan, Mali and Ghana — and tantalizingly close to eradication. If it is eradicated, it will be only the second ailment, after smallpox, that we’ve been able to eliminate form Earth.
Worldwide cases have already been reduced by 99.7 percent, and Carter’s work
has truly transformed those villages where the worm used to be endemic. He shows
that these are battles we can win.
That is great news and truly did give me hope about the ability for human beings to work together for the good of this planet (Does that hope wax and wane for you as much as it does for me?). To be honest, though, the reason I went to that article was because the blurb about it on the front of nytimes.com was: "Jimmy Carter's efforts to eradicate a tropical parasite should set an example for future former presidents." I truly expected to see Jimmy Carter holding a gun on Robert Mugabe (Apparently I've been reading too much from The Onion). Oh well...maybe that can be George Bush's good deed as a former president.