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R.A. Goodman,* K.L. Foster,** F.L. Trowbridge,*** & J.P. Figueroa****

This Supplement to the Bulletin of the World Health Organization presents the Proceedings of the Conference on Global Disease Elimination and Eradication as Public Health Strategies, which was held in Atlanta, GA, USA, on 23-25 February 1998. The Conference was co-sponsored by WHO and many national and international agencies (see Annex C). One of the co-sponsors, the Task Force for Child Survival and Development (TFCSD), also served as the Conference Secretariat. The Conference focused on two main objectives: to evaluate the role of elimination or eradication of diseases in the context of local and global health problems and sustainable health development; and to identify the specific conditions and diseases with the highest potential for elimination and eradication. This Conference was without precedent in terms of the broad expertise and stature of the invited participants and, perhaps more importantly, its aim to examine simultaneously the categories of noninfectious conditions, infectious diseases, and health systems, all in relation to the potential for global disease elimination and eradication.

Over 200 invited persons with expertise in international health and selected diseases or health conditions participated in the Conference. These experts represented a broad range of international organizations, academic institutions, other programmes, and countries (see list of participants, Annex B). Their experiences encompassed several key disciplines, including vertically organized disease control and prevention programmes, health systems infrastructure development, basic laboratory research, epidemiology, economics, and behavioural sciences.

The goal of the Conference was to produce practical, concrete recommendations to assist governments, nongovernmental, multinational, and other organizations in their consideration of disease elimination and eradication efforts. Accordingly, the Conference was structured first to provide pertinent background information and perspectives on ongoing elimination and eradication programmes. Participants were then presented with the results of a pre-Conference survey intended to identify potential candidate noninfectious and infectious conditions. This information was used by five workgroups (sustainable health development; noninfectious conditions; and bacterial, viral, and parasitic diseases) to assist in framing their deliberations.

Because of the historical importance of the Conference, the organizers sought to produce in the Proceedings both the spirit and the substance of the meeting. The goal of the editors was to ensure an accurate record of the Conference, while retaining the uniquely diverse expression of each contributor. The published Proceedings therefore present the plenary papers reporting on the background and previous programmes, followed by papers updating ongoing disease elimination and eradication programmes. Papers addressing candidate diseases/conditions for elimination or eradication precede the conclusions and recommendations of each of the five workgroups. The workgroup reports are followed by comments made during open discussion and by a synthesis. The Annexes include detailed fact sheets about specific diseases/conditions for the use by workgroup members. The Conference summary also contains points discussed by a small workgroup, convened in Atlanta on 1-2 June 1998, to consider critical issues identified during the Conference.

Meeting the goals of the published Proceedings, one of the priority outcomes of the Conference, required an extraordinary effort by the contributors and the professional staff of TFCSD and CDC. In particular, we thank Kim Koporc and Richard Conlon for their efforts, and Dr Walter Dowdle for his unfailing support. In addition, we are grateful to Dr Ian Neil, Editor of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, for his flexibility during the development of the Proceedings. Finally, we would like to add our own note of thanks in acknowledging the efforts of many others who were involved in the Conference, including the co-sponsoring organizations, the workgroup rapporteurs, the primary authors of all the other papers, the dedicated staff of TFCSD for their support in facilitating the Conference, Dr Rob Lyerla of CDC, and the experts who developed the fact sheets. The contributions of all these persons and organizations ensured the success of the Conference and the timely development of these Proceedings and should assist in promoting health through the control, elimination, and eradication of disease.

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