The World Health Organization (WHO) has commemorated the 40th anniversary of smallpox eradication and, together with partners, has commenced a new campaign to raise awareness of the need to invest in global health security.
On 9 December 1979, it was confirmed smallpox had been eradicated and in May 1980, the 33rd World Health Assembly issued its official declaration that "the world and all its peoples have won freedom from smallpox." A plaque marking the end of the scourge that had afflicted millions for thousands of years was unveiled at WHO headquarters in Geneva last week in the very same meeting room where, four decades earlier, the 19 members of the Global Commission for the Certification of Smallpox Eradication certified that smallpox had been eradicated from the world.
Speaking at the last week's event, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the eradication of smallpox was a testimony to what can be achieved when all nations work together.
The commemoration kicks off a year-long campaign in which WHO and partners will raise awareness about the need to continue the fight against polio and other diseases and accelerate investments in global health security.