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Why Eradicating a Disease Is One Part Science, One Part Politics (VIDEO)

We've done it before. In 1980, the world wiped the devastating disease smallpox off the face of the earth -- making it the only human disease eradicated in history. So what does it take to destroy another human disease again?
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We've done it before. In 1980, the world wiped the devastating disease smallpox off the face of the earth -- making it the only human disease eradicated in history. So what does it take to destroy another human disease again?

Philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates noted in their 2015 annual letter, which was published on Thursday, that the world is capable of eradicating more diseases in the next 15 years.

Check out the video above and/or read the transcript below for a two-minute explanation of just how that would work, made in a partnership between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The Huffington Post.

Do you think the world can stop another human disease by 2030? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Why is wiping out a disease so hard?

Only one disease has been wiped off the face of the earth: Smallpox. It was officially declared eradicated in 1980, and some of what was learned is being applied today. But why haven't we eliminated more diseases?

The hardest part isn't always about scientific know-how. It's often about getting that know-how to the places and people in the world that need them. And as history has taught us, that means addressing some common challenges -- like poor roads to remote locations, broken water or sanitation systems, political situations that prevent health access, and environmental factors like tropical climates where diseases can flourish.

But there are five crucial areas where the world can work together.

  1. Global Investment -- There's a coordinated global effort to rid the world of diseases like polio and malaria. It takes engagement from partners and funders all committed to the same goal, that includes scientists, doctors, researchers, governments, nonprofits, charities, businesses and donors.

  • Political Commitment -- Getting governments and leaders to commit to necessary health programs and acquire and distribute vaccines.
  • Strong Health Systems -- Without access to health care and trained workers in the community, diseases go unchecked. And even relatively simple preventable illnesses can become a health crisis.
  • Vaccine Programs -- To tackle a disease, a comprehensive vaccine rollout plan is needed to ensure vaccines are reaching all people at the right times.
  • And local community groups, teachers, and citizen volunteers are a critical link to ensure vaccine campaigns are a success. It's vital to have supporters, well-versed in the local customs, and language to ensure accurate information is being shared.

    So if the world focuses on these moving parts, we can get rid of even more diseases in the near future. All we need now is action.