Political and social determinants of disease eradication

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Abstract

Eradication of disease is a major social achievement. To date, six attempts have been made to eradicate diseases in which humans are the primary or sole host, but only one has been successful. Success depends on very high levels of participation, beyond the levels predicted if individual community members act rationally in a self-interested way. Because near-universal participation is a condition of the achievement of eradication, a global eradication initiative can be held to ransom by a single country or small political groups. It is not always in the interests of a country to participate in an eradication initiative, particularly if there are pressing health needs in other areas. Game theory provides a useful way of understanding these processes. To achieve disease eradication, an international system of diplomatic and financial incentives and enforcements will need to be developed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDisease Eradication in the 21st Century: Implications for Global Health
EditorsStephen L Cochi, Walter R Dowdle
Place of PublicationUSA
PublisherThe MIT Press
Pages47-61
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9780262016735
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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