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With Lessons Learned From Smallpox Eradication Efforts, Investment In Vaccines, Goal Of Ending Preventable Child Deaths Achievable

In this Baltimore Sun opinion piece, Orin Levine, executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Myron Levine, the Grollman Distinguished Professor and director of the Center for Vaccine Development at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, discuss the successful eradication of smallpox last century and write that “the same can now be done for diarrhea and pneumonia.” They continue, “Eradicating smallpox taught us new ways to gather disease data, empower local leaders, create incentive programs, set up delivery chains and drive innovation,” but “the most important lesson was not to fear big, ambitious global health goals.”

IVAC analyses “show that by scaling up the coverage of existing vaccines for diarrhea and pneumonia in the world’s poorest countries, we would not only save the lives of 3.7 million children and prevent more than 100 million cases of illness, but vaccination in the next decade would also prevent the loss of $63 billion in treatment costs and lost productivity,” they note, continuing, “Today, as then, government and private sector leaders will face difficult choices about how to invest their limited funds.” They conclude, “The case for investing in vaccines and child survival should not be one of the difficult ones, and [government and private sector leaders] should not back away from the audacious goal of ending preventable child deaths” (6/25).