Science's Role in the World Health Organization

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  08 Jun 1973:
Vol. 180, Issue 4090, pp. 1032
DOI: 10.1126/science.180.4090.1032


One hears often of the financial contributions made by the United States to the support of activities within the U.N. system, but much less frequently about benefits obtained. A particular instance of the latter is worth citing.

An analysis was recently made by N.W. Axnick and J.M. Lane (3) of the costs associated with the protection of the United States against smallpox in 1968. This was estimated to be $153.8 million, of which $0.7 million was contributed to WHO specially earmarked for its smallpox eradication program, and $3 million in U.S. bilateral assistance to 19 countries in West Africa. Ihe success of the WHO-directed smallpox eradication program throughout the world has resulted in a 1972 decision by U.S. authorities to discontinue routine vaccination of the general population and of smallpox vaccination requirements for international travel to smallpox-free countries, which was estimated to involve economic costs of $135.7 million during 1968. The total current U.S. contribution (1972) to all activities of WHO is $27.6 million. Thus it will be seen that very substantial savings, probably exceding $100 million annually, wili accrue to the United States from the work of WHO on smallpox alone.