Nearly three years ago, Nigeria reported the last case of Guinea worm disease, and this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the country Guinea worm-free. When considered in tandem with Nigeria’s centenary celebrations, this encouraging declaration is further testament to just how far the nation has come in its fight against poverty, which Guinea worm has been found to exacerbate.

Referred to as a “scourge” by President Goodluck Jonathan, Guinea worm (dracunculiasis) is an ancient neglected tropical disease (NTD) spread by ingesting water contaminated by Guinea worm larvae. The larvae grow to be about one meter long and emerge through an excruciatingly painful blister on the skin after incubating for about 9-12 months in its host. In 1988, 653,492 cases of Guinea worm were reported in Nigeria, and 26 years later there are zero cases-a truly remarkable feat, thanks to the commitment of Nigeria’s government and international partners.

Moving forward, President Jonathan looks to harness the momentum generated from this success to address other endemic diseases in Nigeria, with a particular focus on wild polio, hoping that its transmission will be interrupted by the end of the year at the very latest.

While President Jonathan did not explicitly mention other NTD efforts during the WHO certification ceremony, it is important to note that he has already committed to seeing the end of these diseases (notably onchocerciasis, lymphatic filariasis, and schistosomiasis) as confirmed in his new year’s message.

The Nigerian government’s persevering commitment to disease elimination is encouraging, after having overcome the most expensive and challenging last mile of Guinea worm that are characteristic of any elimination campaign.

In Nigeria’s resolve lies hope for its African counterparts still in their last steps to eliminate the near-extinct disease, only 148 cases of which are still present across South Sudan (113), Chad (14), Mali (11), Ethiopia (7) and Sudan (3).

I congratulate President Jonathan and the people of Nigeria for their important achievement so far and encourage them to continue making NTDs a priority as we all seek to achieve the 2020 elimination goal!

Nearly three years ago, Nigeria reported the last case of Guinea worm disease, and this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the country Guinea worm-free. When considered in tandem with Nigeria’s centenary celebrations, this encouraging declaration is further testament to just how far the nation has come in its fight against poverty, which Guinea worm has been found to exacerbate.

Referred to as a “scourge” by President Goodluck Jonathan, Guinea worm (dracunculiasis) is an ancient neglected tropical disease (NTD) spread by ingesting water contaminated by Guinea worm larvae. The larvae grow to be about one meter long and emerge through an excruciatingly painful blister on the skin after incubating for about 9-12 months in its host. In 1988, 653,492 cases of Guinea worm were reported in Nigeria, and 26 years later there are zero cases-a truly remarkable feat, thanks to the commitment of Nigeria’s government and international partners.

Moving forward, President Jonathan looks to harness the momentum generated from this success to address other endemic diseases in Nigeria, with a particular focus on wild polio, hoping that its transmission will be interrupted by the end of the year at the very latest.

While President Jonathan did not explicitly mention other NTD efforts during the WHO certification ceremony, it is important to note that he has already committed to seeing the end of these diseases (notably onchocerciasis, lymphatic filariasis, and schistosomiasis) as confirmed in his new year’s message.

The Nigerian government’s persevering commitment to disease elimination is encouraging, after having overcome the most expensive and challenging last mile of Guinea worm that are characteristic of any elimination campaign.

In Nigeria’s resolve lies hope for its African counterparts still in their last steps to eliminate the near-extinct disease, only 148 cases of which are still present across South Sudan (113), Chad (14), Mali (11), Ethiopia (7) and Sudan (3).

I congratulate President Jonathan and the people of Nigeria for their important achievement so far and encourage them to continue making NTDs a priority as we all seek to achieve the 2020 elimination goal!