New Book Looks at the Downside to Polio’s Eradication

What could be wrong with trying to wipe out a disease that can cause full or partial paralysis? Plenty, Queens College Urban Studies Professor William Muraskin explains in Polio Eradication and Its Discontents: A Historian’s Journey Through an International Public Health (Un)Civil War (Orient BlackSwan). In 1988, when the World Health Assembly—the governing body of the World Health Organization— initiated the anti-polio effort, numerous diseases posed a greater threat to the world’s children. Advocates’ real goal, says Muraskin, was to demonstrate the viability of a top-down, global eradication project. He documents how the campaign prompted tremendous backlash in India and other developing countries, which did not want funds and attention siphoned away from more pressing public health issues.

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