Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter urged better health training and sanitation Monday to help eradicate preventable diseases in Africa.
Carter, who is on an 11-African nation tour, said problems such as malaria and river blindness which is caused by a worm that breeds in fast-flowing rivers are ravaging the continent.
"More than 7 percent of Ethiopia's 77 million people are susceptible to river blindness," he told ministers and diplomats from several African nations. "Children are particularly vulnerable to the disease and this is unnecessary."
Carter was scheduled to travel Tuesday to the western Ethiopian region of Jimma, where his organization is working to supply medication and materials to combat river blindness.
According to the Carter Center, the former president's international-affairs think tank, 18 million people in 37 countries, most in Africa, live with the disease.
Carter and his wife founded the center to promote human rights and improve the quality of life in the Third World, reports AP.
Ethiopia is one of the world's poorest countries, and more than half of the population live on less than US$1 (EUR0.77) a day.
Carter also said simple tools to combat malaria, such as bed netting, could save 60,000 to 100,000 lives a year in Ethiopia. The Carter Center recently purchased 3 million mosquito nets for distribution in western Ethiopia.