Disease Elimination and Eradication
GLIDE works to advance global thinking and accelerate progress towards disease elimination and eradication.
GLIDE builds on country ownership and local solutions to amplify lessons learned from the countries with which we engage to achieve disease elimination and eradication. We take a panoramic view, working with stakeholders to help countries share experiences, coordinate, and learn across contexts to accelerate progress towards elimination targets.
We believe that sustainable solutions require strong partnerships across public, private, international, and domestic actors focusing on cross-border, cross-sectoral, and cross-disease action.
GLIDE currently focuses on 4 diseases:
Eliminating and eradicating these diseases would have a significantly positive impact on the lives of people in nearly 100 countries around the globe and boost global economic prospects. GLIDE seeks results that are built on lessons learned over the years and aims to provide solutions that are sustainable for the future.
Though the terms elimination and eradication are often used interchangeably, they have different meanings.
What is disease elimination?
Elimination of disease:
Reduction to zero of the incidence of a specified disease in a defined geographical area as a result of deliberate efforts; continued intervention measures are required. Example: elimination of wild polio in Nigeria.
Elimination of infections:
Reduction to zero of the incidence of infection caused by a specific agent in a defined geographical area as a result of deliberate efforts; continued measures to prevent re-establishment of transmission are required. Infections can be reintroduced as long as the disease is present in other parts of the world. Example: measles, poliomyelitis in the Americas.
What is disease eradication?
Permanent reduction to zero of the worldwide incidence of infection caused by a specific agent as a result of deliberate efforts; intervention measures are no longer needed. Example: smallpox.
What diseases have been eradicated?
Smallpox is the only human disease to have been eradicated in the history of public health. Thanks to the discovery of the smallpox vaccine in 1796, the World Health Organization declared smallpox eradicated in 1980 – almost two centuries after the vaccine was first developed. Now that the disease has been eradicated, routine vaccination has stopped, but surveillance is ongoing.
Other human diseases on the cusp of eradication are polio and guinea worm disease. The only other disease to have been eradicated is rinderpest, which was a deadly disease that affected cattle.
In order to assess if a disease can be determined, scientists and public health officials consider a set of criteria:
- Is the disease easily diagnosable or recognizable?
- Is there a non-human reservoir or vector (or both)?
- Is the disease geographically restricted?
- Is there a vaccine?
- Are there other transmission-disrupting alternatives to a vaccine?
In addition to these scientific criteria, sufficient global political and economic coordination is necessary, supported by awareness and education campaigns to increase support among the public.
The ongoing process of disease elimination and eradication
Two diseases that are slated for eradication are polio and guinea worm, while the elimination of 20 neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) is a global target set by WHO in the recently adopted 2021-2030 Roadmap.
Challenges of disease elimination
The last mile of disease elimination and eradication is often the hardest, requiring concentrated efforts and resources – both human and financial – to close the remaining gap.
Political and community engagement and commitment are required to achieve global targets, and to ensure that competing priorities do not detract from the end game.