Health. Strategies To Eradicate Devastating Diseases at The Museum of Natural History in New York.
HEALTH. EXPLORING THE CHALLENGES AND BENEFITS OF ERADICATING DISEASE.
The challenges of eradicating devastating diseases are enormous, but successful strategies can bring about enormous social and economic benefits.
Opening at the American Museum of Natural History on January 13, Countdown to Zero: Defeating Disease explores the factors that determine if a disease is eradicable—meaning that it can be wiped out completely—as well as the scientific and social innovations that are ridding the world of ancient afflictions.
Developed in collaboration with The Carter Center, the exhibition uses stunning photography, videography, and artifacts to highlight several global efforts to fight infections. Chief among these is the more-than-30-year campaign that may soon eradicate Guinea worm disease, positioning it to become only the second human disease ever eradicated, after smallpox. The exhibition also highlights ongoing programs to eradicate polio, local elimination of river blindness, lymphatic filariasis, and malaria, and the challenge of diseases that cannot be eradicated, including Ebola.
“The number of cases of Guinea worm disease continued decreasing in 2014, bringing Guinea worm eradication closer to the finish line,” said former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, whose Carter Center leads the international campaign to eradicate this water-borne disease. “We believe eradication of Guinea worm disease is very possible in the next few years, but success will require the strong commitment and focus of the four remaining endemic countries and the many international partners in this public health initiative.”
“The Museum is very pleased to collaborate with The Carter Center to present this exhibition on a critically important challenge in the 21st century, the control and eradication of infectious disease,” said Ellen V. Futter, President of the American Museum of Natural History. “The Museum’s research has had a growing focus on the ecology and genomics of infectious disease, including real-world applications for human health and medicine.
This exhibition and the work it highlights are fully aligned with the Museum’s efforts to advance scientific understanding of ecosystems within and without the human body and their interrelationship with one another—and to communicate with a broad public about this complex intersection.”
The Museum has a long tradition of exhibitions that highlight scientific questions with direct bearing on human health, beginning with the groundbreaking International Tuberculosis Exhibition in 1908 and including, more recently, exhibitions such as Epidemic! The World of Infectious Disease (1999) and The Genomic Revolution (2001).
Countdown to Zero draws on a core area of the Museum’s scientific research, the diversity of parasitic and microbial life, such as the organisms responsible for transmitting malaria.