May 17, 2010

Thirty years have passed since smallpox—a disease that killed more people than all the wars in history—was officially declared eradicated. To commemorate the 30th anniversary of smallpox eradication, Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) will unveil a bronze statue at WHO headquarters in Geneva on May 17. Sabin Vaccine Institute (Sabin) Executive Vice President Dr. Ciro de Quadros is joining Dr. Chan and other global health dignitaries at the unveiling of the statue.

The statue, a bronze grouping funded by donations to the Smallpox Eradication Commemoration 2010 Secretariat, memorializes the collective work of individuals across the globe that led to the eradication of smallpox, humanity’s greatest health scourge that had plagued civilization since the beginning of recorded history.

“Smallpox eradication was achieved at a time when there was no precedent to believe that such a feat was possible,” said Dr. de Quadros. “Our success rested in the cooperation, passion and dedication of individuals around the globe who saw needless suffering and committed their lives to eradicating this disease.”

Dr. de Quadros served as the WHO’s chief epidemiologist for the Smallpox Eradication Program in Ethiopia from 1970 to 1976 and is a renowned leader in the development of successful surveillance and containment strategies that led to the eradication of the disease.

“The challenges we faced and our ultimate success are lessons that can be transferred, learned from and used by health practitioners who are working today to eradicate diseases like polio and measles,” Dr. de Quadros continued.

To facilitate that process, Sabin, in conjunction with the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Brazil and the Fogarty International Center at the US National Institutes of Health, is convening a global symposium on the smallpox eradication program and its relevance to current and future health priorities. “Smallpox Eradication After 30 Yrs: Lessons, Legacies, and Innovations,” will encourage knowledge sharing between leaders of the smallpox eradication movement and current global health practitioners.

The symposium will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from August 24-27, 2010. Confirmed speakers include Dr. Ciro de Quadros of Sabin; Joel G. Breman of the Fogarty International Center, NIH; Paulo Gadelha, President of FIOCRUZ; D.A. Henderson, who led the WHO’s global smallpox eradication campaign from 1966-1977; Mirta Roses, Director of the Pan American Health Organization; and Tadataka Yamada of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, among others.

For more about the symposium, visit www.smallpox2010.org.

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