Returning to Togo 20 years later
I served in Togo from 1991 to 1993 as a Guinea Worm Eradication volunteer. I was in an endemic area; almost everywhere there were people with worms emerging from their arms, legs, and other body parts. This was incapacitating for farmers; they were not able to work in the fields. Now twenty years later I was assigned by the CDC, my current employer, to serve as a temporary international consultant for the World Health Organization to certify the eradication of Guinea Worm disease in Togo. Twenty years ago I worked at the village level with education of community health volunteers, surveillance, and small projects. Eradication took longer than we said it would (the original eradication date was 1995, in reality it was 2008). Several of the people that I worked with twenty years ago are still working in the Guinea Worm campaign and are involved with the certification process. This was truly a collaborative effort. As far as the certification process goes, we have divided into four teams that will cover the entire country for eight days. We go to villages and interview the USP (Unite de Soins Peripherique), the ASC (Agent de Sante Communautaire), and individuals about their knowledge of Guinea Worm. It has been wonderful to see the fruits of my labor and I feel honored to be a part of this process.