We located fourteen regional storage areas and began buying the bed nets before launching our six-month distribution effort in January 2007. It is hard to imagine the volume of 3 million nets. One enormous pile was named "Carter's Mountain." The total cost of our Center's portion of the malaria program in Ethiopia will be $46 million, an amount that we are attempting to raise from private contributors. This is the largest project in a single country that we have ever undertaken.
Advantages for our Center include a thorough knowledge of the malaria-endemic areas, derived from our battles against Guinea worm, trachoma, and onchocerciasis, along with a large cadre of trained native health workers who can now combine their efforts against several diseases simultaneously. As previously mentioned, the most direct ancillary benefit will be against lymphatic filariasis, since mosquitoes also spread this disease.
The International Task Force for Disease Eradication (ITFDE) was formed at The Carter Center in 1988 to evaluate disease control and prevention and the potential for eradicating infectious disease. Composed of scientists and notable international health organizations from around the world, the task force first met from 1988 to 1992, concluding that six diseases?dracunculiasis, poliomyelitis, mumps, rubella, lymphatic filariasis, and cysticercosis?could be eradicated. Some of these targets proved to be unrealistic, even if theoretically feasible. Guinea worm and polio eradication were already under way, but this ITFDE report has led to a new effort to eliminate lymphatic filariasis.
In June 2001, we were able to secure support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and resumed the effort to review progress in disease eradication and to make recommendations regarding opportunities for eradication or better control of certain disease. Two diseases (Guinea worm and polio) have been designated by the World Health Organization for worldwide eradication, and five others (leprosy, lymphatic filariasis, river blindness, trachoma, and schistosomiasis) for elimination or dramatic reduction in specific regions. Not coincidentally, our Center's health programs address five of these seven diseases (all except polio and leprosy). In 2006, the ITFDE encouraged the Dominican Republic and Haiti to cooperate in eliminating malaria and lymphatic filariasis from the island of Hispaniola, and in 2007 it continued to monitor the potential for eliminating onchocerciasis in selected areas of Africa. The task force also analyzes major diseases that become vulnerable to control thanks to new scientific knowledge or technological innovation. One notable example is the long-term impregnated bed nets for combating mosquito-borne malaria and lymphatic filariasis.
Shortly after we left the White House, Rosalynn and I had a visit to Ryoichi Sasakawa, one of the most remarkable men we have known. Our first encounter with him was when his staff members called and requested permission to visit us at our home in Plains, along with Reverend Wayne Smith, found of the Friendship Force. When the elderly Japanese man first entered our home, he expressed amazement that we lived in "such a humble dwelling." His second utterance was "I understand that you need money to build a presidential library, and I want to make an initial contribution of $500,000."