Seeking A Broad Scientific Consensus On Disease Eradication

In a SciDev.Net letter to the editor, Rashid Zargar from the Centre of Research for Development at the University of Kashmir, responds to an editorial published by the news service last week in which editor David Dickson suggested that “focusing on the science and technology required to eliminate a disease, rather than just control it, can pay off.” Zargar writes, “Dickson offers an in-depth perspective on disease eradication, and he is correct in saying that eradication strategies, though important, will be challenging.” However, he adds, “Ecologists may have reservations about the idea of eradicating a disease, which stem from the belief that mechanisms already exist in nature to maintain ecological balance and the co-existence of living organisms.”

“It seems only right that before embarking on eradication programs, public health authorities must consult epidemiologists and ecologists, seeking a broad scientific consensus,” he writes, concluding, “But first, we need innovative research and systematic monitoring programs to obtain first-hand information about patterns of disease occurrence” (10/27).