"When a thing has once been done, people think it is easy; when the road is made, they forget how rough the way used to be."
Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy, 1621 (as cited in Henderson, 2009)
One issue that Dr. Foege encountered was a civil war in Nigeria. "The Nigerian federal health authorities now questioned everything being done in the Eastern Region, including the rapid start of its smallpox program. This was evident at a meeting called in Lagos in early 1967 to discuss health education for Nigeria's smallpox eradication program. The meeting disintegrated into a full-blown attack on the posters, methods, and plans in the Eastern Region..." (Foege, 2011). Even on the brink of war, Dr. Foege still had to fight his own.
Many people believed that smallpox could never be eradicated. It took three tries to convince the WHO it could be done and to start the smallpox eradication program."...There was no shortage of people telling them that the effort was futile and they were hurting their career chances--this proved untrue" (Foege, 2011).
A Time Limit
The World Health Organization funded the Smallpox Eradication Program for ten years. After ten years, the program had to fund itself. Dr. Foege and countless others eradicated smallpox in ten years, nine months, and twenty-six days, almost a year after the deadline.