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Smallpox Eradication 40 years on: An alternative commemoration

Posted on 7 January 2020

Centre Director Professor Sanjoy Bhattacharya is speaking at the Duke University, USA on 30 January

Sanjoy's talk will focus on the Smallpox eradication story from a more critical and expansive way. An effective vaccine caused health officials around the world to start dreaming about the prospect of smallpox eradication. In the mid-1960s, a series of US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and USAID- supported pilot programs in western and central Africa proved the efficacy of the freeze-dried vaccine and provided the strategic template for worldwide smallpox eradication. But was it really all so simple? This lecture adopts a more expansive and critical perspective. It considers political, public health, and social contributions and responses around the world from 1948, the year the WHO was established, to 1980, when smallpox eradication was formally certified by an international commission of scientists. It will pose questions about historical method, and wider assumptions made about human and ideological value in international and global health projects.  


This lecture is being held in conjunction with the WHO Global Health Histories Seminar: Decolonizing Global Health held at Duke on Friday, January 31, 2020. For more information about the conference: Decolonizing Global Health Conference