Culture and Health webinar series 2019 – 200 million lives saved: Smallpox eradication 40 years on

5 November 2019, University of York, United Kingdom

In December 1979, an independent, international committee declared the world free of smallpox – an achievement many had considered impossible. Smallpox had been one of the most devastating diseases known to humanity. Based on its large death toll, it is estimated that the successful eradication of the disease has saved 200 million lives.

Vaccination campaigns, surveillance and prevention measures were combined to eradicate smallpox by containing epidemic hotspots and better informing affected populations about the disease. This required the sustained collaboration of countries and international actors.

This webinar will involve former smallpox eradicators and historians to present a multifaceted and nuanced view of the sociocultural contexts that made the eradication dream a reality. It will explore how eradication approaches were tailored in different contexts, and what contemporary public health practitioners and policy-makers can learn from the story of smallpox eradication.

The webinar will be live streamed at 13:00–14:00 CET (12:00–13:00 GMT).