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ECONOMIST. 1993 Nov 13; 99-100.The World Health Organization (WHO) eradicated smallpox in 1977. This was the first time that an effective vaccine disseminated through a systematically organized inoculation program had been so successful. In the aftermath, WHO launched the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) with the objective of eradicating measles, diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, tuberculosis, and polio. These diseases were chosen because all caused major child mortality and effective vaccines existed against each. After 16 years, 80% of the world's children have been immunized and many lives have been saved, but only patchy geographical coverage of immunizations has been achieved and each targeted disease in still with us. In light of this situation, program critics saw the need to take an alternative approach and launched the Children's Vaccine Initiative (CVI) in 1990. EPI concentrated on increasing the effectiveness of bureaucracy to delivery vaccines, but 5 clinic visits in the first 15 months of the baby's life were nonetheless needed for a complete regimen of inoculations against all 6 target diseases. The WHO bureaucracy had trouble incorporating improved vaccines as they were developed and in maintaining the cold chain. The CVI, however, has only minority participation by WHO and the different strategy of focusing upon the development of simpler, more robust vaccines. The CVI is striving to develop a combined vaccine against all 6 diseases which would be affordable, unaffected by changing temperatures, and administered orally in 1 dose shortly after birth. The WHO chief, Nakajima, conceded to the flaws of EPI and agreed to merge the program and its resources with CVI in January, 1994. This move will bring a great deal of program money to CVI. Regarding specific technologies, Virogenetics of Troy, New York, is testing canary-pox-based vaccines on people with the goal of securing a vaccine capable of effectively carrying 7 different antigens. Timed-release capsules are being tested as a means of dealing with the need for repeated doses and it appears that using heavy water to make polio vaccine increases the latter's resistance to heat; researchers are trying to find out why.
Washington, D.C., World Bank, 1991. x, 51 p. (World Bank Technical Paper No. 159)A World Bank report outlines the results of an empirical study. It lists institutional characteristics connected with successful tropical disease control programs, describes their importance, and extracts useful lessons for disease control specialists and managers. The study covers and compares 7 successful tropical disease control programs: the endemic disease program in Brazil; schistosomiasis control programs in China, Egypt, and Zimbabwe; and the malaria, schistosomiasis, and tuberculosis programs in the Philippines. All of these successful programs, as defined by reaching goals over a 10-15 year period, are technology driven. Specifically they establish a relevant technological strategy and package, and use operational research to appropriately adapt it to local conditions. Further they are campaign oriented. The 7 programs steer all features of organization and management to applying technology in the field. Moreover groups of expert staff, rather than administrators, have the authority to decide on technical matters. These programs operate both vertically and horizontally. Further when it comes to planning strategy they are centralized, but when it comes to actual operations and tasks, they are decentralized. Besides they match themselves to the task and not the task to the organization. Successful disease control programs have a realistic idea of what extension activities, e.g., surveillance and health education, is possible in the field. In addition, they work with households rather than the community. All employees are well trained. Program managers use informal and professional means to motivate then which makes the programs productive. The organizational structure of these programs mixes standardization of technical procedures with flexibility in applying rules and regulations, nonmonetary rewards to encourage experience based use of technological packages, a strong sense of public service, and a strong commitment to personal and professional development.