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Smallpox: The Death of a Disease: The Inside Story of Eradicating a…

de Donald A. Henderson

Outros autores: Richard Preston (Prefácio)

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703297,648 (3.9)2
For more than 3000 years, hundreds of millions of people have died or been left permanently scarred or blind by the relentless, incurable disease called smallpox. In 1967, Dr. D.A. Henderson became director of a worldwide campaign to eliminate this disease from the face of the earth. This spellbinding book is Dr. Henderson's personal story of how he led the World Health Organization's campaign to eradicate smallpox--the only disease in history to have been deliberately eliminated. Some have called this feat "the greatest scientific and humanitarian achievement of the past century." In a lively, engrossing narrative, Dr. Henderson makes it clear that the gargantuan international effort involved more than straightforward mass vaccination. He and his staff had to cope with civil wars, floods, impassable roads, and refugees as well as formidable bureaucratic and cultural obstacles, shortages of local health personnel and meager budgets. Countries across the world joined in the effort; the United States and the Soviet Union worked together through the darkest cold war days; and professionals from more than 70 nations served as WHO field staff. On October 26, 1976, the last case of smallpox occurred. The disease that annually had killed two million people or more had been vanquished-and in just over ten years. The story did not end there. Dr. Henderson recounts in vivid detail the continuing struggle over whether to destroy the remaining virus in the two laboratories still that held it. Then came the startling discovery that the Soviet Union had been experimenting with smallpox virus as a biological weapon and producing it in large quantities. The threat of its possible use by a rogue nation or a terrorist has had to be taken seriously and Dr. Henderson has been a central figure in plans for coping with it. New methods for mass smallpox vaccination were so successful that he sought to expand the program of smallpox immunization to include polio, measles, whooping cough, diphtheria, and tetanus vaccines. That program now reaches more than four out of five children in the world and is eradicating poliomyelitis. This unique book is to be treasured--a personal and true story that proves that through cooperation and perseverance the most daunting of obstacles can be overcome.… (mais)
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Appreciated the heartbreaking pictures. Really helped hit home how terrible a disease it is. Story was a bit dry, but did dive into the difficulties that countries and organizations had to be worked through. The cost was so cheap to address this issue - just needed organization and planning. Gold stars to all people who made this happen ( )
  bermandog | Jun 6, 2021 |
Smallpox was one of the most terrifying and gruesome diseases to ever scourge humanity. More people have died from it than armed conflict in the 20th century. It blinded and scarred its victims, sparing no one.

And it is gone.

This is a very readable and thorough insider's view of the eradication effort, written by one of the people who was most responsible. The methods are very interesting - a long-lasting, easily used vaccine, given to every infected person, and all those nearby. A new type of bifurcated needle (seen on the cover) allowed for efficient and quick injection of the vaccine. West Africa actually progressed faster than expected, due to the relative isolation of the villages, and easiness to monitor.

I am astonished by the levels of international cooperation which allowed this effort to be possible. Both the US and USSR generously donated large stocks of money and material. India was very helpful, after realizing the potential embarrassment of having detonated nuclear weapons but still being ravaged by smallpox, which the developed world had fought so vigorously.

The author has kind words to say about nearly everyone (especially his staff), except a few scoundrel bureaucrats and the government of the petty Somalian tyrant Siad Barre, who stubbornly hindered their efforts. Even the Byzantine corruption endemic to India did not prevent their spread for too long.

To date, only one other disease has been eliminated - rinderpest, a disease which afflicts cattle. But smallpox is the only human disease which has been eradicated. There are drives to eliminate polio, which is reduced by some 90%, but still clings on.

A book that shows that there might still be some hope in the goodness and ingenuity and drive in humanity. ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
An excellent book. I found it hard to read because the story is sad/difficult. I mean, we should be able to come together internationally to things like this more easily. I also found the pictures very upsetting. However, I recommend it, and I think it is important to remember how to do things like this. ( )
  neefer | Jun 10, 2011 |
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Nome do autorFunçãoTipo de autorObra?Status
Henderson, Donald A.autor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Preston, RichardPrefácioautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
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For more than 3000 years, hundreds of millions of people have died or been left permanently scarred or blind by the relentless, incurable disease called smallpox. In 1967, Dr. D.A. Henderson became director of a worldwide campaign to eliminate this disease from the face of the earth. This spellbinding book is Dr. Henderson's personal story of how he led the World Health Organization's campaign to eradicate smallpox--the only disease in history to have been deliberately eliminated. Some have called this feat "the greatest scientific and humanitarian achievement of the past century." In a lively, engrossing narrative, Dr. Henderson makes it clear that the gargantuan international effort involved more than straightforward mass vaccination. He and his staff had to cope with civil wars, floods, impassable roads, and refugees as well as formidable bureaucratic and cultural obstacles, shortages of local health personnel and meager budgets. Countries across the world joined in the effort; the United States and the Soviet Union worked together through the darkest cold war days; and professionals from more than 70 nations served as WHO field staff. On October 26, 1976, the last case of smallpox occurred. The disease that annually had killed two million people or more had been vanquished-and in just over ten years. The story did not end there. Dr. Henderson recounts in vivid detail the continuing struggle over whether to destroy the remaining virus in the two laboratories still that held it. Then came the startling discovery that the Soviet Union had been experimenting with smallpox virus as a biological weapon and producing it in large quantities. The threat of its possible use by a rogue nation or a terrorist has had to be taken seriously and Dr. Henderson has been a central figure in plans for coping with it. New methods for mass smallpox vaccination were so successful that he sought to expand the program of smallpox immunization to include polio, measles, whooping cough, diphtheria, and tetanus vaccines. That program now reaches more than four out of five children in the world and is eradicating poliomyelitis. This unique book is to be treasured--a personal and true story that proves that through cooperation and perseverance the most daunting of obstacles can be overcome.

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