Former First Lady, Rosalynn Smith Carter has passed away at the age of 96 with her family by her side at her home in Plains, Georgia. A life-long humanitarian and pioneering mental health campaigner, Mrs Carter was married for 77 years to Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States and the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, who is now 99 years old. The pair worked closely together.
“Rosalynn was my equal partner in everything I ever accomplished,” President Carter said in a statement. “She gave me wise guidance and encouragement when I needed it. As long as Rosalynn was in the world, I always knew somebody loved and supported me,” he said.
After President Carter left the White House in 1982, the couple set up the Carter Center, a nonprofit to focus on conflict resolution, democracy, and health. Programmes range from election monitoring in Latin America and conflict resolution work in the Middle East and Africa, to advocacy and education on mental health, and initiatives tackling neglected tropical diseases – or NTDs – like blinding Trachoma and Guinea worm.
In the 1980s, when the Carter Center began its programme to tackle Guinea worm, there were believed to be more than 3.5 million cases worldwide.
As of last year, the global caseload stood at just 13 - in five countries (Angola, Chad, Ethiopia, Mali, and South Sudan) – which is equivalent to a 99.99 percent decrease. And now, Guinea worm is on course to become only the second human disease - after smallpox - to be eradicated.