Here’s a fact about Dr. Donald Hopkins. He helped eradicate Smallpox, and is on the verge of killing another disease. He’s taken Guinea Worm Disease down from 3.5 million cases a year to just 28 cases last year.

Dr. Donald Hopkins helped wipe smallpox from the planet. He won’t rest until he’s done the same for Guinea worm disease.

Hopkins has been fighting the parasite for 37 years. Health officials believe that, with vigilance, the disease will soon be eradicated globally.

Photograph by Melissa Golden

At an open-air hospital in northern Ghana, Donald Hopkins watched a small girl endure a medical ordeal unseen in the United States.

It was 2007, and four-year-old Rafia Fusseini was getting treated for Guinea worm, a parasite that infected her after she drank contaminated water and then grew inside her body. Now it was burrowing out through her skin. Rafia sat on a chair, dressed in a blue-and-red print blouse, as a healthcare worker slowly guided the worm through an ulcer on her leg, taking care not to tear it as it emerged. Rafia’s mouth was open in agony…
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