Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

THE HEALTH OF NATIONS: Towards a World Without Contagious Disease by Karen Bartlett

  • Written by  Jon Wright
  • Published in Books
THE HEALTH OF NATIONS: Towards a World Without Contagious Disease by Karen Bartlett
01 Jun
2017
The world’s leading health organisations were not easily convinced that total eradication of polio would be possible. Great success had been achieved in both Europe and the US during the 1950s and 1960s but could we ever wipe out a disease which produced so many ‘invisible carriers’ with no symptoms?

 

By the late 1980s, though, the gauntlet was thrown down at the highest levels and, at first, progress was impressively swift. Then came India, a nation with so many remote populations and in which the birth rate outstripped the ability to inoculate. The polio workers, the heroes of Karen Bartlett’s book, soldiered on undeterred and ultimately reached their goal. It was a wonderful example and, these days, polio is only endemic in three countries around the globe: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. So far as polio is concerned, Bartlett writes, ‘the end game is on.’

As cheering as this is, Bartlett reminds us that the final stages of eradication are always going to be the hardest: there is cash to be found, science to be polished, and political momentum to be sustained. If absolute eradication is not achieved then ‘critics will point to the 30-year, $8.6billion campaign and claim it has spent a staggering amount of money and expended huge efforts in chasing an impossible dream.’ The stakes could not be higher. Those critics can also point to the failure of previous attempts at total eradication. Smallpox may have been defeated by 1979, but many other terrible diseases clung on. This measured and scholarly book, a deft combination of history and palatable scientific reportage, should, however, give us all hope. If you believe the Gates Foundation, malaria may be vanquished by mid-century.         


Click here to purchase The Health of Nations: Towards a World Without Contagious Disease by Karen Bartlett

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

geo line break v3

EDUCATION PARTNERS

DurhamBath Spa600x200 Greenwich Aberystwythherts

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in REVIEWS...

Books

Journalist, author and humanitarian Tara Kangarlou spent four years reporting…

Books

Jonathan Drori CBE FRGS is the author of the international…

Books

Explore the month's best nonfiction reads 

Books

by Jonathan Drori, illustrated by Lucille Clerc • Laurence King Publishing

Books

Your monthly dose of recommended nonfiction reads for June

Books

by Jemma Wadham • Allen Lane

Books

Read on for all of Geographical’s May book reviews