Friday, February 24, 2012

Prez Carter

I was surprised when my professor in Poverty and Rural Development clicked to a slide titled "Prez Carter."

Looking back on my AP U.S. History days, Jimmy Carter = 39th U.S. President and Iran hostage crisis.
Believe it or not, there is a lot more to the guy than that. His non-profit, The Carter Center, has done some great things for Africa, Ghana included.

In class, we were examining the crippling effects of disease on poverty and rural development. Our focus was primarily on two parasitic diseases: Onchocerciasis (aka river blindness) and Dracunculiasis (aka Guinea worm).

We viewed several documentaries that were quite hard to watch. I am very thankful that we had made spaghetti for dinner the previous night, because I am not sure I would have been able to stomach it after seeing these noodle-like worms. Unlike your average piece of spaghetti, however, these “noodles” can be up to 800 mm long. They can cause fevers, nausea, vomiting, blistering, and ulcerations that persist for months, in addition to permanent disability...more than your average case of spaghetti sauce induced heartburn. 

I try to make light, but there is really no way to escape how horrific and destructive these diseases can be.

Luckily, they are preventable (either through medication or water purification techniques), and steps have been taken in recent years to significantly reduce the number of cases of both river blindness and Guinea worm. The Carter Center has played a HUGE role in this. Way to go, Jimmy!

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