Dr. Donald A. Henderson

Dr. Donald A. Henderson M.D.

2014 in Public Health

Dr. Donald A. Henderson led the�World Health Organization’s�Global Smallpox Eradication Campaign. Smallpox is considered the first and only deadly disease that has been completely eradicated from the world.
Although the prevention of smallpox by inoculation of smallpox scabs was practiced as early as 1000 BC, smallpox continued to be an important public health problem throughout the world in the 20th century especially developing countries. Although a vaccine for smallpox was discovered as early as 1796, there was still no way to prevent the spread of this disease. Smallpox caused an estimated 300–500 million deaths during the 20th century.�
From 1966 to 1977, Dr. Henderson led the WHO Smallpox Eradication Unit. The unit coordinated a global effort of mass vaccination campaign and intensive case surveillance that led to eradication of smallpox. The smallpox eradication campaign came to a successful conclusion in 1977 when the last case was reported in�Somalia. �On 8 May 1980, the WHO declared that the global goal of smallpox eradication had been achieved. Smallpox eradication has not only saved billions of lives but also has set an example on how to tackle more effectively other health problems.
Dr. Donald A. Henderson received his A.B. in 1950 from Oberlin College and his M.D. in 1954 from the University of Rochester School of Medicine. He served both an internship (1954-1955) and a residency (1957-1959) in medicine at the Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital. Between his internship and residency he worked in the epidemiology intelligence service of the Communicable Disease Center (CDC). In 1960, Dr. Henderson received an M.P.H. from the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health.