U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

NIH: Fogarty International Center NIH: Fogarty International Center
Advancing Science for Global Health
Advancing Science for Global Health
Home > News > Global Health Matters > Global Health Matters May/Jun 2020 > Commemorative stamp issued to mark 40th anniversary of smallpox eradication Print

COVID-19: COVID-19 public health information from the US CDC | COVID-19 research information from the US NIH | Español | COVID-19 resources for global health researchers

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.”

More Information

To view Adobe PDF files, download current, free accessible plug-ins from Adobe's website.