Niamey, Niger - The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared Niger free of Guinea worm, official sources told PANA here Friday. The sources said the Nigerien Minister of Health, Mano Aghali, has received a certificate to this effect from the WHO Representative in Niger, Assimawé Pana.
This declaration was made way back in December at the ninth session of the International Commission for the Eradication Certification of of dracunculiasis (Guinea worn) held from 3 to 7 December in Geneva, Switzerland.
At that time, Niger was declared Guinea worm free together with Cote d'Ivoire, Nigeria, South Africa and Somalia.
According to Pana, the WHO will continue to support Niger in its efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals (number 6) relating to health by 2015.
In the1980s, Guinea worm was widespread in 20 countries, 16 of which were in Africa, affecting more than 3.5 million people.
But since 2010, the prevalence rate dropped drastically with less than 1,800 cases recorded across the continent.
Guinea worm is transmitted from drinking unhealthy stagnant water, contaminated with water flea infested by larvae of the Guinea worm.
Once in the human body, the larva turns into a worm, measuring up to one metre long.