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UN agencies released postal stamp on 40th anniversary of smallpox eradication

Smallpox is the first and the only human disease that has been eradicated on a global scale through the collaboration of countries all over the world.

May 11, 2020 14:06 IST
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World Health Organisation (WHO) on May 8 released smallpox commemorative postal stamp to celebrate the 40th anniversary of smallpox eradication. The stamp has been developed by the United Nations Postal Administration (UNPA), in collaboration with WHO.

Smallpox is the first and the only human disease that has been eradicated on a global scale through the collaboration of countries all over the world.

The 33rd World Health Assembly on May 1980 had issued its official declaration stating that the world and all of its people have won the freedom from smallpox.

WHO on May 8 tweeted this news at the virtual unveiling of the stamp in Geneva and stated that the postage stamp is to recognize the global solidarity in a fight against smallpox.

Smallpox tweet

Significance of releasing the postage stamp:

As per WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, when WHO’s smallpox eradication camp was launched in 1967, one of the ways through which countries raised awareness was through the postage stamps as there were no platforms such as Twitter or Facebook.

The stamps recognize the global solidarity in a fight against smallpox and also honours millions of people, from world leaders to rural doctors and community health workers to international organisations, who worked together to eradicate smallpox.

Development of public health tools:

WHO chief informed that the public health tools that were used successfully for the eradication of smallpox have been also used to respond to COVID-19 and Ebola. These tools were case finding, disease surveillance, large campaigns to inform affected populations, and contact tracing.

Smallpox was eradicated with WHO’s 10-year-old effort. It involved thousands of health workers around the world who administered half a billion vaccinations.

WHO against COVID-19:

The United Nations stated that successful smallpox eradication helped in the development of knowledge and tools for disease surveillance, the importance of health promotion, and the benefits of vaccinations.

There are lessons that can be learned from the eradication of smallpox, they can help in the fight against COVID-19 and prepare for future pandemics as well. The eradication of smallpox showed that with global solidarity we can overcome any health crisis.

Following the patterns, WHO has been working with partners for the development of the COVID-19 vaccine to combat the pandemic.

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