Jimmy Carter receives CDC Foundation Hero Award

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter received the 2012 CDC Foundation Hero Award on Thursday to honor his contributions of visionary leadership and his commitment to a healthier and more peaceful world.

In 1986, the Carter Center became the lead organization in an international effort to eradicate Guinea worm disease. Since then, the disease has been reduced by more than 99 percent. Carter rallied support to eradicate the disease country-by-country, inspiring village elders and political leaders alike.

Carter received the award at a ceremony at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"President Carter's vision and leadership have improved health, reduced suffering, and increased the security of millions of people throughout the world," Thomas Frieden, the director of the CDC, said. "We at CDC are privileged to partner with President Carter and The Carter Center on many health initiatives that build hope for so many every day. President Carter's commitment and drive have made it possible for countless people worldwide to live long, healthy, and productive lives."

Guinea worm disease once affected approximately 3.5 million people in 21 countries. In 2011, there were less than 1,100 cases and the disease is on track to become the second human disease to ever be eradicated.

"We are honored to recognize President Carter for his dedication and leadership toward the eradication of Guinea worm disease, which is an amazing testament to the power of public health and the power of partnership," Charles Stokes, the president and CEO of the CDC Foundation, said. "President Carter truly exemplifies the mission of CDC: to protect people and save lives from health, safety and security threats."

Carter received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for his decades of effort in trying to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, promote social and economic development, and advance human rights and democracy.

The CDC Foundation Hero Award, which was first presented in 2005, recognizes significant contribution to improving public health through exemplary work in advancing the mission of the CDC to promote health by preventing and controlling disability, injury and disease.