Andrew Cliff and Matthew Smallman-Raynor

in Oxford Textbook of Infectious Disease Control

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print April 2013 | ISBN: 9780199596614
Published online July 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191757136 | DOI:

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This chapter discusses the chequered history of the concept of disease eradication, which has occasionally found favour and then fallen into disrepute as a global health strategy over the last 100 years. The International Task Force for Disease Eradication (ITFDE) has commented on the eradication concept in the 1990s. The success or otherwise of a global eradication campaign is contingent not only on issues of biological and technical feasibility, but also on issues of economic costs and benefits and, crucially, societal and political commitment. Historically, these criteria have determined the failure of some campaigns (yellow fever, yaws and malaria), the success of others (smallpox) and, on the basis of these past experiences, the judicious selection of target diseases for the future. From the list of potentially eradicable diseases identified by the ITFDE, measles was singled out by the 2010 World Health Assembly as a likely successor to poliomyelitis and dracunculiasis for global eradication. But successful eradication campaigns raise fresh dilemmas. Once a disease has been eradicated, difficult decisions need to be made over the ultimate fate of the remaining laboratory stocks of the associated pathogen – a dimension of disease eradication that the global community has been grappling with in respect of smallpox virus for three decades.

Chapter.  12965 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology ; Infectious Diseases ; Epidemiology

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