[Answered] Critically analyze the concept of disease elimination versus eradication with reference to the Indian context.

Introduction: Give a brief context to the introduction

Body: Difference between elimination and disease eradication

Conclusion: Way forward

India has a rich history of tackling infectious diseases. The latest report by the Carter Center shows that guinea worm disease was close to eradication. This would be the second disease after smallpox to be eradicated and the first one with no known medicines or vaccines.

Eradication vs. Elimination

  • Definition: Disease elimination targets achieving zero transmission within a defined geographic area, marking a significant milestone in public health efforts. Disease eradication entails permanently ceasing the transmission of a pathogen globally, representing the ultimate goal of public health.
  • Diseases: In the Indian context, disease elimination has been achieved for diseases such as polio and maternal and neonatal tetanus. In the Indian context, efforts towards disease eradication have primarily focused on diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and, more recently, COVID-19.
  • Factors: Surveillance systems must be strengthened to detect and respond to any resurgence of the disease post-elimination. Achieving elimination nationwide may be challenging within the declared time frame for certain diseases, but feasible for others in specific regions. the feasibility of eradicating certain diseases nationwide may vary depending on factors such as disease prevalence, geographic distribution, and healthcare infrastructure.

Key Considerations in the Indian Context:

  • Vast Population and Diverse Geography: India’s sheer size and varied landscapes pose challenges in achieving uniform program reach. Localized pockets of high prevalence can persist even with national elimination. (e.g., Leprosy in Bihar and Chhattisgarh)
  • Socioeconomic Disparities: Unequal access to healthcare, sanitation, and clean water disproportionately affects vulnerable communities, hindering elimination efforts.
  • Cross-Border Movement: Open borders with neighboring countries can lead to the reintroduction of eliminated diseases. (e.g., Malaria).


Ending the epidemics of malaria, tuberculosis, and Neglected Tropical Diseases by 2030 is one of the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations. Disease elimination and eradication represent complementary strategies in India’s public health agenda, each requiring careful planning, resource allocation, and multisectoral collaboration. While elimination targets zero transmission within defined regions, eradication aims for global cessation of disease transmission. Success in these endeavors hinges on strong surveillance systems, political commitment, and coordinated efforts at regional and national levels.

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