What if you could put an end to a painful or deadly disease? If you could ensure that no one would ever suffer from it again? That goal of wiping out every single case of a disease is ambitious and the challenges are enormous—but the potential benefits are even greater.

To date we’ve eradicated only one human disease: smallpox. But dedicated health workers around the globe are closing in on others. Guinea worm, which once afflicted millions, will soon be gone for good. And efforts are underway to wipe out or control polio, malaria, lymphatic filariasis and onchocerciasis, also known as river blindness.

It won’t be easy, but through research, international cooperation, health education—and sheer determination—the suffering caused by these diseases may soon be a distant memory.

Countdown to Zero: Defeating Disease is on view January 13, 2015–April 30, 2017. 

Countdown to Zero is presented by the American Museum of Natural History in collaboration with The Carter Center.

Countdown to Zero is proudly supported by Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Lions Clubs International Foundation, Mectizan Donation Program, and Vestergaard.

This exhibition is made possible by the generosity of the Arthur Ross Foundation.

Top Photo: An educational comic book, which explains how to prevent the spread of Guinea worm disease, captures the attention of Guinea-worm patients Sadia Mesuna (right) and Fatawu Yakubu. 

©The Carter Center/L. Gubb

Countdown to Zero: Defeating Disease