If you’ve been paying attention to recent news, you might think that we’re entering a time when leaps forward in health care only happen at great expense. That misses the point. It also, once again, confirms the incorrect impression that we can only make leaps through advances in technology. As I said in previous episodes, people are more important than technology. To illustrate this point, we’ll discuss the guinea worm.

This is adapted from a piece Aaron wrote for the NYT. Links and references are embedded in that piece: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/12/upshot/lessons-from-the-low-tech-defeat-of-the-guinea-worm-.html?abt=0002&abg=1

John Green — Executive Producer
Stan Muller — Director, Producer
Aaron Carroll — Writer
Mark Olsen — Graphics

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34 Comments

  • Swilly Billy

    Posted July 15, 2021 1:29 pm

    Smallpox has not been eradicated the name was changed to monkey pox. Only in name was it gone.

  • Brian B

    Posted July 15, 2021 1:29 pm

    Maybe we should implement this for covid-19 eradication

  • M J

    Posted July 15, 2021 1:29 pm

    Fast Fwd to 2020.. and corona virus is spreading because people aren't washing their hands.. humans suck!

  • A random guy Named matt

    Posted July 15, 2021 1:29 pm

    I dont wanna drink water anymore

  • Pottz1616

    Posted July 15, 2021 1:29 pm

    Great info.

  • Nicole SJ

    Posted July 15, 2021 1:29 pm

    Excellent information, and much-needed good news.  When I first learned about Guinea Work, it was learning about a real-life horror.  I am so glad that it has almost been eradicated!  Well done Carter Center and all of the healthcare workers and people in Africa and Asia.  Truly awesome.

  • Andrew Steeves

    Posted July 15, 2021 1:29 pm

    I work as a COOK. You just spoke of food-born illness. Can you do a video showing us the CORRECT way that doctors should wash their hands? I think that, if I knew the RIGHT way that a DOCTOR is supposed to wash his hands, then I could probably prevent some food-born illness myself when I put my gloves on and get to work.

  • kd1s

    Posted July 15, 2021 1:29 pm

    Very interesting. And if we wanted to stop opportunistic infections occurring in hospitals then yes, hand hygiene and gloves are a must. 

  • EnigmaHood

    Posted July 15, 2021 1:29 pm

    Great episode as always. Eradicating the diseases that mosquitoes serve as a vector for is a huge priority. Singapore used to be a very poor country, and a big reason for that is widely attributed to malaria and other viruses spread by mosquitoes. As you pointed out, being infected with diseases is a huge drain on the country's economy and results in a tremendous amount of lost productivity. Eradicating malaria and other viruses spread by mosquitoes from Singapore helped shape it into a fully developed country. So doing the same in South Asia and Africa would enable them to decrease poverty and make tremendous strides towards being fully developed. 

  • curleyjoe666

    Posted July 15, 2021 1:29 pm

    Similarly to hand washing it seems that many healthcare professionals that I have seen are not aware of the correct procedure in taking off latex/nitrile and other similar gloves. Many people take them off in such a way that there hands are exposed to the outside of the glove, hence rendering the entire process irrelevant.

    It's my suspicion (I do not have the resources to conduct proper studies on the matter) that teaching people the correct way to use such tools would, alongside better hand hygiene regimes significantly decrease infections and cross contamination.

  • mhairimclynn

    Posted July 15, 2021 1:29 pm

    I can't get a flu vaccine; every woman on my mother's side of the family that's received a flu vaccine has become seriously ill (as in hospitalization ill).  I've never reacted well to vaccines and with my family history, there's no way I'm taking that chance…

  • That Clever Chick

    Posted July 15, 2021 1:29 pm

    Since hand washing is so important, could you do a hand washing demonstration? I mean like show how long you're really supposed to do it, etc. 

  • Colleen Burns

    Posted July 15, 2021 1:29 pm

    I am learning that some schools (in other developed nations such as Canada and France) are moving to wired computers because the radiation from the wifi is bad for kids. Is there any research to back this new "scare"?

  • Cye Stoner

    Posted July 15, 2021 1:29 pm

    Can you do an episode on the "controversy" of fluoride in water?

  • Yann Lee

    Posted July 15, 2021 1:29 pm

    I got a question. Is the food pyramid wrong? What i mean is that I heard that bread should not be at the bottom of the pyramid, but fruit and veggis supposed to be.

  • Flo Curlz

    Posted July 15, 2021 1:29 pm

    The flu vaccine I feel like there a new one every year

  • PhrygianPhreak

    Posted July 15, 2021 1:29 pm

    I think something else that should be mentioned is that not only are people important in the sense you don't need great advancements, but people are also the most important factor when there is a great advancement. For example, even after germ theory was proven many doctors still didn't wash their hands. Many times where there is an advancement, and i"m not just talking new meds and equipment but also discoveries, people have a tendency to give more attention to treatments they perceive as effective, basically a large scale vision bias. I belive the advances in medication and their application was completely dependent on advancements in statistical analysis, because with big numbers we can show people treatments work even they don't see it on their hands.

  • steveh46

    Posted July 15, 2021 1:29 pm

    Many more lives would be saved by putting resources and effort into making sure everyone today is treated with the best practices we already know about than would be saved by putting the same resources and effort into research.  The US is not very good at making sure people get appropriate care.

  • Sazy Plew

    Posted July 15, 2021 1:29 pm

    Do you mean PREVENTATIVE CARE/MEASURES…tell that to insurance providers and pharmaceutical companies! Can't mess with profit! 

  • Daniel Riggins

    Posted July 15, 2021 1:29 pm

    This is one of the best episodes Dr. Carroll has made. Well done!

  • Wampa Man

    Posted July 15, 2021 1:29 pm

    It'd be awesome if what happened to Guinea Worm could happen to HIV through rigorous sex education & health precautions.
    Though I may be oversimplifying, given HIV's pervasiveness, especially in poor countries that don't have good systems in place for HIV prevention.
    Kind of crazy to think that some places in the US still lack proper sex ed for children who need that information.

  • Gigaheart

    Posted July 15, 2021 1:29 pm

    Is this a thing in the USA?

  • atelat6

    Posted July 15, 2021 1:29 pm

    This channel deserves way more views. If the general public payed more attention to this kind of media that is presenting fact over hyped misconceptions, then we might able to make greater advances as a population.

  • rmatrem

    Posted July 15, 2021 1:29 pm

    Nice anecdote Aaron, but as you know the plural of anecdote does not equal data 😉 😛

  • Tom Metz

    Posted July 15, 2021 1:29 pm

    We go to Africa and educate the people there about this worm and it gets eradicated over the course of a few decades.

    Maybe the same could happen with heart disease and diabetes in the U.S.? These diseases are largely preventable (or certainly delayable) for many people and are usually the result of lifestyle.

  • GV Fanfiction

    Posted July 15, 2021 1:29 pm

    you said that smallpox was the first and only disease to be completely gotten rid of world world wide, but I though polio had been gotten rid of as well. or am i wrong on that one

  • Gregory Gzik

    Posted July 15, 2021 1:29 pm

    You said smallpox has been the only human disease that has ever been eradicated, but what about Rinderpest?

    Great video by the way 🙂

  • Wynadorn

    Posted July 15, 2021 1:29 pm

    Haha I was looking for something to watch while eating ill put this on watch later

  • Tyler Morrison

    Posted July 15, 2021 1:29 pm

    I really value your opinion and love these videos. I stopped getting the flu shot when I was around 14 because my mom explained to me that it only covers one of many strains of the virus likely to go around in the coming season, and that more times than not, they predict the wrong version of the flu to inoculate the population with, and the inoculations go to waste. Do you have any comment on this? What truth is there to that part of the story? 

  • andrew schultz

    Posted July 15, 2021 1:29 pm

    the sound of his arms on the desk ois driving my crazy

  • Scix

    Posted July 15, 2021 1:29 pm

    ….I am going to wash my hands now.

  • PogieJoe

    Posted July 15, 2021 1:29 pm

    I was sitting there horrified hearing about the symptoms…but was overjoyed to hear it's almost completely gone. How exciting! 😀

  • OrUptotheStars

    Posted July 15, 2021 1:29 pm

    What is the best time of year to get a flu shot?  You need a new one each year, right?

  • theraider222

    Posted July 15, 2021 1:29 pm

    good episode but a coupe of facts were off. the number of cases of Guinea worm this year as of the end of July is 53, which is still down 51% by the same point the year before. Also the worm has infected domesticated  dogs in some areas which is making it harder to wipe out. 

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