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November 14, 1980

The Eradication of Smallpox From India

Author Affiliations

School of Public Health University of Illinois Medical Center Chicago


by R. N. Basu, Z. Jezek, and N. A. Ward (WHO Series History of International Public Health No. 2, WHO Regional Publications, South-East Asia Series No. 5), 346 pp, with illus, Sw fr 30, New Delhi, WHO South-East Asia Regional Office. 1979.

JAMA. 1980;244(19):2214. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03310190064037

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The Eradication of Smallpox From India is the celebration of a remarkable event in medical and public health history, written by three officers who took an active part in the Indian smallpox eradication campaigns. The book is a cautious empirical analysis, mainly of the Intensified Campaign of 1973 to 1975 and the Fever-With-Rash Outbreak Surveillance that followed it. Occupying the greater part of the text are detailed reports with figures on the planning, administration, staffing, reporting, and evaluation of every aspect of the campaign, with an addendum on financing, "Unusual Episodes," a summary, and a bibliography. In spite of some redundancy, the record is fascinating, written in a language suitable for both the scientist and layman.

It is surprising, however, that the authors were not more candid in telling the story. After reading the book, one is left with the feeling that something has been glossed over or left out.