KFF Health News today launched a new limited-series podcast, “Epidemic: Eradicating Smallpox,” with host Dr. Céline Gounder, senior fellow and editor-at-large for public health at KFF Health News. The eight-episode podcast takes listeners on a journey to South Asia, the site of the last days of variola major smallpox. There, public health workers from India, Bangladesh, and around the world did what many thought was impossible: eradicate smallpox.
“Eradicating smallpox was one of humanity’s greatest triumphs, and it’s one that public health has yet to repeat,” said Dr. Gounder, a physician and epidemiologist. “By telling the stories from the field with the communities and public health workers involved, we can better understand how science, medicine, and the human spirit can dramatically change the course of history.”
In the first episode of the series, listeners will hear how smallpox was seen as both deadly and divine in India through the story of a young boy who overcomes his fear and gets vaccinated after seeing a close friend die of the disease.
In each episode, Dr. Gounder, a public health expert and the KFF Health News medical contributor for CBS News, shares another facet of the historic effort to end smallpox from the field in India and Bangladesh, and also interviews guests who reflect on the strategies and actions of public health workers to help identify relevant lessons for today’s public health emergencies.