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History of the International Task Force For Disease Eradication

ITFDE (I) 1992-1999 

The original International Task Force for Disease Eradication (I) was established by a grant from the Charles A. Dana Foundation to The Carter Center in 1988. Dr. William Foege (Carter Center executive director 1986 - 1992) was the principal investigator and chaired most meetings; then-Senior Consultant Dr. Donald Hopkins was project director and chaired the final meeting. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided many of the consultants who helped to review the various diseases.

The ITFDE met six times between 1989 and 1992, usually just after a quarterly meeting of the Task Force for Child Survival and Development, which had several members in common. The ITFDE established specific criteria for assessing eradicability, considered 94 diseases, and reviewed 30 of them in depth, including one non-infectious disease. It concluded that six diseases - dracunculiasis, poliomyelitis, mumps, rubella, lymphatic filariasis and cysticercosis- could probably be eradicated, using current technology. It also concluded that manifestations of seven other diseases could be "eliminated", and it noted critical research needs that, if realized, might permit other diseases to be eradicated eventually.

One of the most important contributions of the ITFDE (I) was the impetus it gave to consideration of the potential eradicability of lymphatic filariasis. Periodic summaries of the results of each meeting were published in the World Health Organization's Weekly Epidemiological Record and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). A complete summary of the work of the ITFDE was published as a supplement to CDC's MMWR.

ITFDE (II) 2001-present

The current ITFDE (II) was constituted with support provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to The Carter Center in November 2000. It is intended that this ITFDE will review progress in the field of disease eradication over the past decade, including the status of the diseases suggested for possible eradication by the previous ITFDE, and review selected diseases in depth in light of more recent developments. In addition to assessing the potential eradicability of selected diseases, the ITFDE will also consider opportunities for better control of certain diseases if specific circumstances (e.g., demonstration project, targeted research) were met. This review will likely require at least 4-6 meetings over the next few years.

In 2002, the ITFDE concluded measles also could be eradicated. Recently in 2008, The Carter Center supported action to two ITFDE recommendations to encourage cooperation between the Dominican Republic and Haiti to eliminate lymphatic filariasis and malaria from Hispaniola, and to convene the first program reveiw for Buruli ulcer programs in Benin, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, and Togo.

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