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New CGHH blogpost on the eradication of Smallpox

Posted on 11 August 2020

A new briefing from the Global Health Histories (GHH) project brings together material from three GHH three seminars on smallpox prevention, focusing on a diverse spread of national drives from the 1950s and onwards which were integral to the eventual success of the World Health Organization (WHO) Smallpox Eradication Programme.


The WHO declared smallpox eradicated on 8 May 1980, and to date, no other human disease has been eradicated in this way.

‘Laying the foundations for eradicating smallpox’ [by Wellcome Trust-funded writer and communications specialist Radhika Holmström], looks at the more centralised approaches of China and Brazil, the more decentralised approaches of India and Nepal; beliefs about smallpox and vaccination in those four countries; the logistics involved in developing programmes in different areas; and the move towards a global programme

Most attention has focused on the so-called ‘intensified phase’ of the eradication programme from the late 1960s onwards. Yet this was only made possible by the work that preceded it: a range of very different drives in different countries. The new briefing draws on the presentations and material from ‘The fruits of a new internationalism?: South Asian governments, the WHO and global smallpox’ (GHH seminar 26, 2 October 2008); ‘The Creation & Expansion of the Worldwide Smallpox Eradication Programme’ (GHH seminar 121, March 2019); and ‘Smallpox eradication 40 years on' (Cultural Contexts of Health and GHH webinar 138, 5 November 2019).

We thank the Wellcome Trust for their support in organising these seminars.