Violence Threatens Bid to Eradicate Guinea Worm

06/04/2014
Map of South Sudan

So near – and yet so far. Health workers in South Sudan are close to making the parasitic guinea worm only the second human disease ever to be eradicated. Just 11 cases have been seen this year in the country, the worm's last major stronghold, compared to 55 at this time last year.

The progress may be short-lived. South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011, ending years of civil war and bringing hopes that a stable political climate would allow health workers to finish off the guinea worm. But last December, violence flared in the capital, Juba, after a political rift between the country's president and vice-president sparked clashes between the two men's ethnic groups, the Dinka and the Nuer. Fighting then spread to their home territories.

Thousands of people have been killed and more than 1.3 million have fled their homes, including 95,000 crowded dangerously into UN compounds. The conflict has disrupted farming, and the charity Oxfam warns that famine could affect 7 million by August. And the wet season has begun, spreading cholera; an outbreak in Juba has affected 892 people so far.

The full article continues at http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn25674-violence-threatens-bid-to-eradicate-guinea-worm.html#.U58xRygzItU on New Scientist’s website.