Lord Speaker welcomes President Carter to Parliament

03 February 2016

President Jimmy Carter, the 39th President of the United States of America, visited the House of Lords on Wednesday 3 February to deliver a lecture on the eradication of Guinea worm disease as the second of the Lord Speaker’s global lecture series.

The lecture, titled Final Days of the Fiery Serpent: Guinea Worm Eradication, was delivered by President Carter on behalf of The Carter Center.

The Carter Center

The Carter Center leads the international Guinea worm eradication campaign and earlier this year announced that cases of Guinea worm disease worldwide had fallen by 83% in 2014 to just 22 reported cases in 2015. When The Carter Center started its campaign against Guinea worm in 1986 there were an estimated 3.5 million cases of Guinea worm disease each year in Africa and Asia. President Carter’s lecture will announce that the eradication of Guinea worm disease is now in sight.

Get involved

President Carter’s lecture was followed by a question and answer session. The questions came from the audience and via Twitter using #askJimmyCarter.

Global lecture series

Baroness D’Souza, the Lord Speaker, who spent much of her career working on development and human rights issues across the developing world, hosts a lecture series where international figures who are having a global impact address members of both Houses of Parliament on their work and the future of their campaign. In 2015 Bill Gates delivered the first lecture of the series on the Case for International Aid on behalf of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Commenting ahead of the lecture Baroness D’Souza, the Lord Speaker said:

'President Carter has played a key role in fighting the debilitating Guinea worm disease and his Center’s work is delivering real results. We are now close to eradicating the Guinea worm or ‘fiery serpent’, as it is known in affected areas.

'It will be fascinating to hear President Carter’s experiences of taking on, and now being close to winning, the fight against an ancient disease. I know from my own experience of working in developing countries, particularly in Africa, the physical and economic impact on families and communities these kind of parasitic diseases have, and the progress made against Guinea worm disease is a real cause for celebration.

'The purpose of the global lecture series is to provide a unique opportunity for Members of Parliament in both Houses to hear from international figures making a real difference across the globe.'

What is Guinea worm disease?

Guinea worm disease (dracunculiasis) is contracted when people consume water contaminated with Guinea worm larvae. After a year, a meter-long worm slowly emerges from the body through a painful blister in the skin. Guinea worm incapacitates people for weeks or months, making them unable to care for themselves, work, grow food for their families, or attend school.

There is no vaccine or medical treatment available to fight the disease, so The Carter Center’s work focuses on community-based interventions to educate and change behavior, such as teaching people to filter all drinking water and preventing contamination by keeping anyone with an emerging worm from entering water sources.

Further information

Image: Copyright House of Lords 2016 / Photography by Roger Harris

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