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Smallpox Eradication 40 Years On: An Alternative Commemoration

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Thursday, January 30, 2020
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12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
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Sanjoy Bhattacharya, PhD
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Humanities in Medicine Lecture

Lunch provided at 12 noon. Talk begins at 12:10pm.

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. More information: Decolonizing Global Health Conference at https://sites.duke.edu/dukedgh

Sanjoy Bhattacharya, PhD is Professor of History of Medicine, Director of the Centre for Global Health Histories, Head of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Global Health Histories and Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator in the Medical Humanities at the University of York, UK.

Contact: Trent Center