Thinking Big in Public Health, Inspired by the End of Smallpox

Watch an online conversation led by Céline Gounder, a physician-epidemiologist and the host of “Eradicating Smallpox,” Season 2 of the “Epidemic” podcast. The docuseries explores the parallels between the campaign to end a centuries-old disease and the challenges public health faces today.

On Sept. 14, Gounder and her guests came together for a live web event.

In Conversation With Host Céline Gounder

Helene D. Gayle, a physician and an epidemiologist, is president of Spelman College. She is a board member of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and past director of the foundation’s program on HIV, tuberculosis, and reproductive health. She spent two decades with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention focusing primarily on HIV/AIDS prevention and global health.

William H. “Bill” Foege is an epidemiologist and a physician, and was a leader in the campaign to end smallpox during the 1970s. Foege is featured in Episodes 2 and 5 of the “Eradicating Smallpox” docuseries.

Season 2 of the ‘Epidemic’ Podcast Is ‘Eradicating Smallpox’

The eight-episode audio series “Eradicating Smallpox” documents one of humanity’s greatest public health triumphs.
By the late 1960s and early 1970s, smallpox was gone from most parts of the world. But in South Asia, the virus continued to kill. Public health heroes had to conquer social stigma, local politics, and more to wipe out the 3,000-year-old virus, an achievement many scientists thought was impossible.

Host Céline Gounder traveled to India and Bangladesh and brought back never-before-heard stories, many from public health workers whose voices have been missing in the coverage of the history of smallpox eradication. Gounder brings decades of experience working on tuberculosis and HIV in Brazil and South Africa; Ebola during the outbreak in Guinea, West Africa; and covid-19 in New York City at the height of the pandemic.

Season 2 of “Epidemic” is a co-production of KFF Health News and Just Human Productions.

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