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WHO Official Targets Global Eradication of Polio

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David Heymann, an epidemiologist with the World Health Organization, was thrust into the limelight when he was charged with stopping SARS. His reward for succeeding is even more daunting: Finish the job of eradicating polio by 2005.

"In public health, you go where the need is, not where the spotlight is," Dr. Heymann said yesterday during an international teleconference.


In unusually blunt comments for a WHO official, he conceded that if eradication is not complete within two years, it likely will never occur.

"We believe that we have a window of opportunity in which we can eradicate this disease," Dr. Heymann said.