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J Infect Dis. 2011 Jul;204 Suppl 1:S54-61. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jir119.

Comparing measles with previous eradication programs: enabling and constraining factors.

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Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.



Five major disease eradication initiatives were initiated during the second half of the 20th century. The enabling and constraining factors-political, social, economic, and other-for these previous and current eradication programs can inform decision making regarding a proposed measles eradication initiative.


We reviewed the literature on the yaws, malaria, smallpox, guinea worm, and polio eradication programs and compared enabling and constraining factors for each of these programs with the same factors as they relate to a possible measles eradication initiative.


A potential measles eradication program would enjoy distinct advantages in comparison with earlier eradication programs, including strong political and societal support, economic analyses demonstrating a high level of cost-effectiveness, and a rigorous upfront process, compared with previous eradication initiatives, that has validated the feasibility of achieving measles eradication. However, increasing population density, urbanization, and wars/civil conflicts will pose serious challenges.


Measles eradication will be very challenging but probably not as difficult to achieve as polio eradication. Measles eradication should be undertaken only if the commitments and resources will be adequate to meet the political, social, economic, and technical challenges.

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