8 May 1980: Smallpox is officially declared eradicated

This image, taken from the archives of the World Health Organization (WHO), shows the signature of the declaration of the global eradication of smallpox on 8 May 1980. 

The declaration of the global eradication of smallpox was formally signed by the President of the 33rd World Health Assembly, Dr Abdul Rahman Al-Awadi and Dr Halfdan T. Mahler, Director General of the World Health Organization on 8 May 1980.

Smallpox is the first disease to have been fought on a global scale. This extraordinary achievement was accomplished through the collaboration of countries around the world.

At the end of the 1960s, smallpox was still endemic in Africa and Asia. Vaccination campaigns, surveillance and prevention measures aimed to contain epidemic hotspots and to better inform affected populations. All these strategies were used to combat the disease.

Related links

Archives of the Smallpox Eradication Programme

Smallpox at WHO

The Smallpox Eradication Programme (1966-1980)

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