Disease Eradication in the Twenty-first Century: Implications for Global Health

In This Review

Disease Eradication in the 21st Century: Implications for Global Health
by Edited by Stephen L. Cochi and Walter R. Dowdle
The MIT Press, 2011
336 pp. $38.00

One of the great achievements of the twentieth century was the eradication of the perennial scourge of smallpox. Building on that success, scientists have attempted to eradicate other diseases. This volume is a collection of conference papers written mainly for professionals engaged in the complex, multidisciplinary process of disease eradication, which requires the cooperation of thousands of people, including practitioners in small clinics all over the world. The benefits of this laudable decades-long effort are undeniable: endemic measles and rubella have been eliminated from the Western Hemisphere, and researchers in Africa have made important strides against river blindness, a disease caused by a parasitic worm. Of course, frustrating challenges remain. Scientists have long sought to dramatically reduce malaria, but effective countermeasures have proved elusive. Polio, the principal health anxiety of American parents in the mid-twentieth century, had until recently disappeared from all but four countries, down from 119 in 1985. But the virus is now spreading again, aided by today’s massive migrations of people.