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Focusing On Strengthening Health Systems Instead Of Disease Eradication Alone Might Do More To Improve Global Health

Undark: The Enduring Appeal (and Folly) of Disease Eradication
Robert Fortner and Alex Park, both journalists

“…The concept of eradication is appealing. The simplicity of the idea makes it almost inarguable. Why set any goal for controlling a disease, or reducing its infection by a certain number, if — with enough money and effort — you can get rid of the disease forever? … [T]he ongoing and expensive struggle to cover the last mile suggests that there may be a point of diminishing returns. … [T]ruly improving global health may require us to shift our focus away from eradication alone, and to spend some time and treasure helping … nations to build robust health care systems so they can manage diseases that almost certainly will never fully go away. … [I]n limiting the focus to eradication alone, we overlook the fact that we can prevent malaria deaths with drugs we already have. Instead of setting our sights on ‘eradication’ of the disease, we should consider simply ‘reducing deaths’ as an alternative goal — and work to redirect global funding toward that end. Global health organizations, after all, can save many lives — though they would first have to accept a difficult fact: Malaria is not going away” (4/3).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.