Case Number: 5-409-757, Year Published: 2009
HBS Number: KEL492
Polio, Disease Eradication, Global Public Good, Public Health, Global Health, Infectious Diseases, Global Polio Eradication Initiative
The year 2009 witnessed significant setbacks to global polio eradication efforts: a polio outbreak in Nigeria spread into neighboring countries; previously polio-free states in India were reinfected; and Pakistan experienced its largest outbreak of polio in eight years. By year end, the number of children worldwide paralyzed by polio had regressed to 1999 levels. These setbacks sparked a debate about the appropriate strategy for global eradication of polio. Indeed, some experts believed that recent setbacks were not caused by poor management but were instead the result of epidemiological characteristics and preconditions that might render polio eradication unachievable. These experts argued that global health efforts should focus on the control or elimination of polio rather than on the eradication of the disease.This case presents an overview of polio and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. It also recounts the successful effort to eradicate smallpox. The case enables a rich discussion of the current global strategy to eradicate polio, as well as the issue of whether eradication is the appropriate global public health objective. More generally, the case provides a concrete example of a particular type of global public good, namely infectious disease eradication.
This case will:
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