Aaron Huey, Getty Images

Misi: Perlindungan Lingkungan Hidup

CHEVY CHASE, MARYLAND – Bayangkan anda hidup di tahun 1966. Saat ini anda berada di salah satu gedung pemerintah di Washington, DC dan menyaksikan seorang pejabat berkata pada pria berjas, “Misi anda adalah memusnahkan musuh yang menimbulkan korban lebih banyak dibandingkan dua Perang Dunia. Anggaran anda tidak besar, tim cukup kecil, dan jika anda gagal, Menteri akan menyangkal segala tindakan anda.”

Itu tampak seperti sepotong adegan dari film Hollywood. Sesungguhnya itu meniru adegan pembuka film serial televisi Mission: Impossible yang dikeluarkan pertama kali di tahun 1966. Namun kisah serupa benar terjadi, walapun tidak sama persis. Pejabat tersebut adalah Assistant Surgeon General, James Watt; pria yang diberi misi adalah ilmuwan asal Communicable Disease Center (CDC), Donald Henderson; dan musuh saat itu adalah cacar atau variola (smallpox).

Misi tersebut jelas tampak mustahil. Pada saat itu, cacar sudah merenggut dua juta jiwa dan menjangkit 15 juta orang, setiap tahunnya. Akan tetapi, seperti di televisi, Henderson dan tim yang dipimpinnya di World Health Organization (WHO) melawan ekspektasi. Dalam sepuluh tahun, cacar adalah penyakit menular pertama – dan sejauh ini masih satu-satunya – yang berhasil dihilangkan sepenuhnya.

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