"The potential for disease eradication to permanently improve quality of life worldwide is tremendous. By working to eradicate these diseases, we are helping millions of poverty-stricken people see how they can make improvements in their own lives. Families and communities can fulfill their potential, and people regain their faith that government and public services can change things for the better."
— Dr. Donald Hopkins, vice president, Carter Center Health Programs
Inspired by the successful eradication of smallpox in 1977, the International Task Force for Disease Eradication formed at The Carter Center in 1988 to evaluate disease control and prevention and the potential for eradicating other infectious diseases. Composed of scientists and notable international health organizations from around the world, the task force has identified seven diseases that could be eradicated.
The task force identified the first six of these diseases — dracunculiasis (Guinea worm disease), poliomyelitis, mumps, rubella, lymphatic filariasis, and cysticercosis — between 1988 and 1992. Measles was added to this list with the current task force in 2002. (See list of eradication and elimination programs currently sanctioned by the World Health Organization.)
The current task force reconvened in June 2001 to work further on international health with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The main goals of the revived task force are to review progress in the field of disease eradication, review the status of selected diseases for control or eradication, and make recommendations regarding opportunities for eradication or better control of certain diseases.
The International Task Force for Disease Eradication
Carter Center health programs address two of the diseases currently identified by the ITFDE for eradication (dracunculiasis and lymphatic filariasis) and three diseases identified for elimination or better control (onchocerciasis or river blindness, trachoma, and schistosomiasis).
Key Factors in Eradicating a Disease
According to the International Task Force for Disease Eradication, two of the primary factors that determine whether a disease can be eradicated are scientific feasibility and political support. The
following are some of the conditions that make it scientifically feasible to eradicate a disease:
Even if it is scientifically feasible to eradicate a disease, there are nonscientific conditions that must be considered, such as:
ITFDE Encourages Cooperation
In 2008, The Carter Center supported two task force recommendations to encourage cooperation between the Dominican Republic and Haiti to eliminate lymphatic filariasis and malaria from Hispaniola and to convene the first program review for Buruli ulcer programs (PDF) in Benin, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, and Togo.
Task Force Members and Chair - Current >
Task Force Members and Chair - Original >
Activities by Country >
ITFDE Publications >
Program Definitions >
Diseases Determined Eradicable (PDF) >
Hispaniola Initiative >
Read the latest International Task Force for Disease Eradication meeting summary >