Tag Archives: The Carter Centre

What comes after

I think the true nature of an elected official shines through not while they are running for office or holding a seat in a governmental body, but rather what they do after they have finished their elected role, especially if they have been an elected official for many years. That person who was a keen community volunteer just before they decided to run for office does not always drop off the other end of the political conveyor belt the same engaged individual.

Former United States President Jimmy Carter has been out of office for 40 years and has been busy writing books, promoting Habitat for Humanity, and working on many peace and health projects through The Carter Center that he and his wife, Rosalynn, founded a year after he left office. A recent episode of the BBC World Service podcast People Fixing The World looked at how the battle against Guinea worm disease is progressing (that section starts at the 14:00 mark). The answer is very, very well, and it is in large part due to The Carter Centre, who took the lead on the eradication effort when no one else wanted to deal with it. They are soooooo close:

In 1986, the disease afflicted an estimated 3.5 million people a year in 21 countries in Africa and Asia. Today, thanks to the work of The Carter Center and its partners — including the countries themselves — the incidence of Guinea worm has been reduced by more than 99.99 percent to 27 provisional* cases in 2020.

The Carter Center

The Guinea worm is a parasite that enters the body as larvae in drinking water and then a year later the three-foot-long worm emerges through a lesion in the skin. The condition doesn’t usually kill people outright, but it is debilitating and the emergence of the worm sounds terrifying and painful.

I have read about and heard programs about this disease before and remember a scientist saying that but for Jimmy Carter’s involvement in directing The Carter Center to take the lead on this huge eradication project, the Guinea worm would still be causing wide-spread suffering. It is far from being a glamorous cause, but Carter was told it could be eliminated, and they went to work to try to do just that.

I think Jimmy Carter has used his post-political years better than almost any other politician I can think of in my lifetime. I understand he and Rosalynn live quite modestly, and he has used his influence and energy to help others and not himself. A true hero.