Animation Skills (Not For Guinea Worm Only) is the result of programming initiatives introduced by Peace Corps/Washington from the Office of Training and Program Support (OTAPS). With renewed commitment to the success of the International Program to Eradicate Guinea Worm Disease by the Year 2000, the Peace Corps proposes a programmatic change to their field-level eradication activities, established in 1986 and now (1997) in ten countries in western Africa. The change will include guinea worm eradication instruction to 911 Volunteers living in endemic countries, regardless of their sector specialty; no longer limiting that training to only Health and/or Water Sanitation Volunteers. A cross-sectoral basic guinea worm training for Education, Agriculture, Forestry, or Small Business Volunteers, will allow many more Volunteers in the field to share information with their communities about the life cycle and transmission of guinea worm, and best practices to avoid and eradicate the disease.
The timing of the renewed commitment on the part of the Peace Corps is significant. National guinea worm eradication programs have been losing momentum since international funding, and involvement began to wane after the original 1995 target date for eradication passed and was changed to 2000. Other critical health issues in guinea worm endemic countries are demanding priority status on national health care agendas. While worldwide cases of guinea worm have decreased dramatically in the last decade (from an estimated 3.5 million per year to fewer than 200,000), many critical interventions must continue to fully meet eradication goals. The last cases of guinea worm may be the most difficult to identify, isolate and treat, but as long as even one case remains in a village, entire regions will be at risk of the disease and its tragic physical, economic, and social consequences.
-Peace Corps Volunteers have been an important link in the chain of successful collaborative efforts to eradicate guinea worm. Volunteers remain a direct and consistent force in the communities with the greatest need for continued attention. Volunteers are in an excellent position to work with endemic populations, influencing behavior change that can break the cycle of the disease.
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