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Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Eradicating Guinea Worm Disease



Since 1961, more than 3,700 Volunteers have served in Ghana. Volunteers support communities through programs in education, business development, environment, and health.

Many Peace Corps Volunteers work to improve community health through efforts to reduce diseases caused by water contamination or poor sanitation. They collaborate with community health and water committees to promote behavior changes, offer health talks, and provide health training to reduce the prevalence of water-related diseases.


You are a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ghana. In your community, people are suffering from an illness called Guinea worm disease.

Guinea worm is a type of parasite. If a person drinks water contaminated with it, the parasite infects the person’s body. When it is living inside the human body, Guinea worm can cause severe pain, although it does not usually lead to death.

Luckily, other communities suffering from Guinea worm disease have been able to reduce and even eradicate, or completely eliminate, the disease.


You must help your community come up with a plan for eradicating Guinea worm disease.

You will begin by collecting information about the disease and the life cycle of the Guinea worm parasite.

Using this information, you will develop and communicate a plan of action.


Materials & Procedures


  1. When you arrive in your community in Ghana, you begin making observations and talking to people about Guinea worm disease. 
    You meet Peter, a former Peace Corps Volunteer, who has returned to Ghana for a visit.

  2. As a Peace Corps Volunteer, Peter worked with community members and health organizations to reduce Guinea worm disease in his village.

    One of these organizations was The Carter Center, founded by President Jimmy Carter.  The Carter Center has worked extensively to address the problem of Guinea worm disease.

    View the first three minutes of video,
    Voices from the Field: Guinea Worm Eradication, to get an introduction to the work they have been doing. 

    Using what you learned from the video, record your answers to the following questions.

    1. How do people get Guinea worm disease?

    2. In which countries is Guinea worm disease endemic (present)? Which of these countries has the most cases? Check the
    map on the Carter Center website for current data.

  3. Read or Listen up to 03:12 as Peter talks about the effects that Guinea worm disease had on his community.

    After you listen, record some of the possible long-term effects for the community if people continue suffering from these problems.


  4. In order to understand how to stop Guinea worm disease, it is important to understand the life cycle of the Guinea worm parasite.

    Read about how Guinea worm moves through its life stages.  

    Then illustrate your own diagram of the Guinea worm life cycle.

  5. With the information you have acquired, you are ready to propose some ideas for reducing Guinea worm disease.

    Review your diagram of the Guinea worm life cycle. Remember that the way to stop Guinea worm disease is to disrupt the Guinea worm life cycle.

    Use the 
    preparing your action plan page to organize your ideas about what you could do.

  6. To communicate your plan, you decide to create a brief public service announcement, or PSA, that will play on the radio.

    A PSA is similar to a commercial, but instead of advertising a product, it shares important information with the public or encourages them to do something.

    Research online and listen to an example public service announcement related to health.

    Think about it:

    • What instructions does the example PSA give?
    • Is it easy to understand?
    • Do you think people will pay attention to this PSA? Why or why not?
  7. Communicate Your Plan: Write a script for a public service announcement (PSA) that states the actions you recommend for stopping Guinea worm disease.

    The PSA must:

    • Clearly and persuasively state what you want people to do
    • Explain why these actions are important for breaking the Guinea worm life cycle
    • Describe how to do what you are suggesting
    • Communicate your message in 30-60 seconds


  8. EVALUATION: Listen (fast forward to 03:13) to the strategies Peter and his community used to try to get rid of Guinea worm disease. Were any of their strategies the same as yours? Bandaging? Chemical treatment? Filtering? Underground wells?

  9. Evaluate your success in this WebQuest, including your proposed plan of action for eradicating Guinea worm and your public service announcement (PSA), using these guidelines.

  10. CONCLUSION: Congratulations on your successful work in helping to eradicate Guinea worm disease!

    Think about it...

    • What are some of the greatest challenges of dealing with diseases like Guinea worm?
    • Do you think it is important for Peace Corps Volunteers and health organizations like the Carter Center to help improve public health in other countries?  Why or why not?
    • Would you ever consider traveling to another country as a health volunteer?  Why or why not?
World Wise Speakers

Invite a Peace Corps volunteer into your classroom to share what it's like to live a global life by sharing stories, cultures and knowledge.