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Smallpox Eradication Continues to Inspire Innovations in Global Health

Tue, 04/24/2012 - 6:45am
The Associated Press

In a special edition of Vaccine released today, Sabin President, Dr. Peter Hotez, and Sabin Executive Vice President, Dr. Ciro de Quadros, share their insights on global health innovations and advancements since the eradication of smallpox was certified by the World Health Assembly in 1980. Their commentary is included in a special supplement that highlights discussions and research from the historic symposium "Smallpox Eradication after 30 Years: Lessons, Legacies and Innovations." The symposium, which reviewed the major lessons from smallpox eradication and how they could be useful to future health initiatives, also featured research and discussions regarding issues that require more attention from the global health community such as the need for new vaccines to confront infectious diseases in developing countries.

Dr. de Quadros, along with Dr. Joel G. Breman, Senior Scientist Emeritus, at the Fogarty International Center of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and Dr. Paulo Gadelha, President of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (FIOCRUZ), served as Guest Editors of the special supplement.

"The symposium went far beyond assembling many giants of smallpox eradication in one place.  Scientific and public health leaders addressed the control and eradication of guinea worm, polio, measles, rubella, malaria and neglected tropical diseases. They were able to describe how research, epidemiological surveillance, and good management that contributed to smallpox eradication are being applied to their programs," explained Dr. Breman.

The symposium, organized by the Fogarty International Center, the Sabin Vaccine Institute and FIOCRUZ took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in August of 2010.

Dr. de Quadros, who served as the World Health Organization's (WHO) Chief Epidemiologist for the Smallpox Eradication Program in Ethiopia from 1970 to 1977, reflected on his time in the field in his article, "Experiences with Smallpox Eradication in Ethiopia." "In 1970, when I first began my work in Ethiopia, the government was reluctant to even acknowledge that smallpox existed in the country, let alone begin a vaccination program," said Dr. de Quadros. "But eventually Ethiopia became the gold standard for eradication programs.

It was the first country in the world to start its campaign with a strategy of 'surveillance and containment' to help monitor, report and ultimately eradicate the disease." During the seven year campaign in Ethiopia, Dr. de Quadros' team overcame obstacles through improved infrastructure, increased resources and the implementation of a comprehensive surveillance and containment strategy. The last case of smallpox was reported in Ethiopia on August 9, 1976.

"The key to eradicating measles globally will be to maintain excellent immunization coverage and high-quality surveillance programs, as was done in the Americas," explained Dr. Mirta Roses Periago, Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). "Eradication in the region was successful because country governments prioritized routine national immunization programs and diligent surveillance, similar to smallpox eradication efforts. Integration of vaccination programs for both measles and rubella was also a key to success and greatly enhanced the capacity for countries in the region to sustain the progress that ultimately led to eradication." The last endemic case of measles in the Americas was reported in 2002 and the last case of rubella was reported in 2009.

Looking at current global health challenges, Dr. Peter Hotez contributed an article calling for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) to be the next focus for elimination. In his article, "Enlarging the Audacious Goal: Elimination of the world's high prevalence neglected tropical diseases," Dr. Hotez hopes to see many NTDs controlled or even eliminated by the end of this decade through a combination of mass drug administration programs and vaccine development efforts.

"Right now, we have the tools available to treat the seven most common NTDs for approximately 50 cents per person per year. These treatments, along with new research to develop preventive vaccines, will mark the next major milestone in global health," said Dr. Hotez. "By enlarging our audacious goal to include NTDs, we have the potential to improve the health and the economic development of more than one billion people living in poverty who currently suffer from at least one NTD." The entire special supplement and a summary of the 2010 symposium can be accessed at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/0264410X/29/supp/S4 About Sabin Vaccine Institute Sabin Vaccine Institute is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization of scientists, researchers, and advocates dedicated to reducing needless human suffering caused by vaccine preventable and neglected tropical diseases. Sabin works with governments, leading public and private organizations, and academic institutions to provide solutions for some of the world's most pervasive health challenges. Since its founding in 1993 in honor of the oral polio vaccine developer, Dr. Albert B. Sabin, the Institute has been at the forefront of efforts to control, treat, and eliminate these diseases by developing new vaccines, advocating use of existing vaccines, and promoting increased access to affordable medical treatments. For more information, please visit www.sabin.org.

About the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation Promote health and social development, forge and disseminate scientific and technological knowledge, be an agent of citizenship. These are the concepts that have guided Fundacao Oswaldo Cruz (Oswaldo Cruz Foundation), known as FIOCRUZ, attached to the Brazilian Ministry of Health and the most prominent science and technology health institution in Latin America.

Inaugurated on May 25, 1900 under the name of Federal Serotherapy Institute, FIOCRUZ was given the mission of fighting the great problems of public health in Brazil.

Today, FIOCRUZ is responsible for a range of activities which include research development; highly-regarded hospital and ambulatory care services; vaccine, drugs, reagents and diagnostic kits production, human resources education and training; information and communication in health, science and technology area; quality control of products and services and the implementation of social technologies. FIOCRUZ has over 11,000 employees and health professionals with different levels of involvement. For more information, please visit http://www.fiocruz.br.

About the Fogarty International Center of U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) Fogarty International Center, the international component of the NIH, addresses global health challenges through innovative and collaborative research and training programs and supports and advances the NIH mission through international partnerships. For more information, visit www.fic.nih.gov.

NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

SOURCE Sabin Vaccine Institute -0- 04/24/2012 /Web Site: http://www.sabin.org/ CO: Sabin Vaccine Institute ST: District of Columbia IN: IDC MTC SU: FOR PRN -- DC93000 -- 0000 04/24/2012 13:47:00 EDT http://www.prnewswire.c

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