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Commemorative stamp issued to mark 40th anniversary of smallpox eradication

May / June 2020 | Volume 19, Number 3

Image of stamp commemorating the 40th anniversary of smallpox eradication. 

On May 8, 1980, the 33rd World Health Assembly officially declared, “The world and all its peoples have won freedom from smallpox.” The announcement marked the end of a disease that had plagued humanity for at least 3,000 years, killing 300 million people in the 20th century alone.

It was ended through a 10-year global effort, spearheaded by the WHO, that involved thousands of health workers around the world who administered half a billion vaccinations to stamp out smallpox. To mark the 40th anniversary of eradication, the UN and WHO have unveiled a commemorative stamp.

At its launch, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “As the world confronts the COVID-19 pandemic, humanity’s victory over smallpox is a reminder of what is possible when nations come together to fight a common health threat.”

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