Kill shot: Pushing diseases to the edge of eradication

 作者:谷梁乒壶     |      日期:2019-02-26 07:15:01
By Meera Senthilingam How do you wipe out a disease? (Image: Sven Torfinn/Panos) We obliterated smallpox 35 years ago, so what will it take to wipe other diseases, like polio and HIV, off the face of the planet today? ON 12 October 1977, Ali Maow Maalin, a 23-year-old hospital cook in the city of Merca, Somalia, embarked on a journey that would both change his life and mark a moment in history. He encountered a driver in need of directions, and ended up joining him and his passengers to help guide them to their destination, just 15 minutes away. The passengers were two children. He saw they had rashes and bumps on their face but thought nothing of it. Had he realised the nature of the place he was directing them to, he might have thought twice. A few months earlier there had been an outbreak of smallpox in a nomadic community north of Merca, and health officials were sending suspected carriers to an isolation camp in the hope of stamping out the disease. That is where Ali was now headed. Afraid of needles, he had never been vaccinated against smallpox. Ali’s 15 minutes of kindness was enough to leave him infected with it – although unlike millions before him, he recovered. His was the last ever case of naturally occurring smallpox. Smallpox remains the only human disease to have been deliberately eradicated from the face of the Earth. Defined as the complete and permanent reduction of a disease to zero new cases at a global level,