UN stamp commemorates 40th year of smallpox eradication

Friday, 08 May 2020

Worldwide | UNPA

The United Nations Postal Administration (UNPA) will issue a stamp to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the eradication of smallpox in conjunction with the World Health Organization (WHO).

A virtual unveiling of the stamp will take place on 8 May.

The stamp in the denomination of CHF 1,70 was designed by Sergio Baradat (United Nations) in collaboration with the World Health Organization.

Until it was wiped out, smallpox had plagued humanity for at least 3,000 years, killing 300 million people in the 20th century alone. 

The successful smallpox eradication programme yielded vital knowledge and tools for the field of disease surveillance, the benefits of vaccination and the importance of health promotion in fighting other diseases.

It also laid the foundation for stronger national immunization programmes worldwide, underpinning the establishment of primary health care in many countries and creating momentum toward Universal Health Coverage.

There are many lessons to learn from the eradication of smallpox that can help fight the COVID-19 pandemic today and prepare for future pandemics.

The World Health Organization commemorated the 40th anniversary of smallpox eradication on December 2019, recognizing the historic moment on 9 December 1979, when the end of smallpox was confirmed.

In May 1980, the 33rd World Health Assembly issued its official declaration that “the world and all its peoples have won freedom from smallpox”.

The eradication of smallpox offers us hope and shows us what global solidarity can achieve.

To purchase these stamps, as well as other UNPA products, please visit unstamps.org.  You can also email UNPA at unpanyinquiries@un.org or call 1-800-234-UNPA (8672).

The stamps can be used to mail postcards and letters around the world, provided that they are sent from the UN headquarters in New York, Geneva or Vienna respectively. 

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