Daniel Tarantola, adjunct professor of research in the USC Program on Global Health & Human Rights, worked nearly two decades with the World Health Organization on large-scale international health programs. In this lecture he will draw on concrete examples that marked the evolution of international and global health—since the historical eradication of smallpox to the contemporary emergence, or recognition of, spiraling public health issues—to illustrate the complexities of a decision-making dilemma: to eradicate, eliminate, control or neglect disease?
Disease eradication—the permanent, worldwide reduction of a particular disease instance to zero—is possible when technology, financial and human resources, and national and international commitment come together. Disease elimination—the reduction of a particular disease infection to zero instances in a defined geographical area—while a less ambitious choice, may occur even when a particular disease is no longer a major global or a national problem. Most often, however, the more modest, albeit challenging, goal of disease control—the reduction of incidence, prevalence, morbidity or mortality to a locally acceptable level—remains the option of choice, in no small part due to constrained feasibility and affordability.
When the complexity of the issues at stake combine with insufficient scientific advancement, poor governance, weak management, lack of funding and/or too many competing priorities result in global and national health stakeholders simply looking the other way, then what occurs is neglect.
This talk will address critical criteria that may be considered to determine which particular health goal fits best the specific characteristics of modern global health issues. It will highlight lessons learned over the past 30 years, from successes to failures—and how the interface between health and human rights may help guide global and national choices.
This lecture is part of the USC Global Health Lecture Series.