1:30 am IST - 3:00 am IST

Past Event

Development Seminar | Smallpox eradication: Inclusive histories as meaningful roadmaps for global health

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

1:30 am - 3:00 am IST

Brookings India
Kamalnayan Bajaj Conference Room

Brookings India
New Delhi

Content from the Brookings Institution India Center is now archived. After seven years of an impactful partnership, as of September 11, 2020, Brookings India is now the Centre for Social and Economic Progress, an independent public policy institution based in India.


We hosted a development seminar on Smallpox Eradication: Inclusive histories as meaningful roadmaps for Global Health with Sanjoy Bhattacharya, Professor in the History of Medicine, Director of the Centre for Global Health Histories and Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Global Health Histories, University of York.

Abstract: How was smallpox eradicated worldwide? National experiences of the development of the smallpox vaccine and eradication campaigns varied widely in structure and impact. These were brought together with the help of local actors to create an international fight against the disease. That battle was won, step-by-step with the help of relevant strategic knowledge that was collected and used to create a range of different qualitative projects. Through this endeavour, what emerged was that the knowledge of the political, social, economic and cultural factors was as important as science and technology. These learnings could have resulted in an eradication programme that could have provided democratic models for future global health initiatives. Instead, narrow sets of institutional histories that honoured the voices and actions of a small number of people were created and advocated, which distorted the past and were used as working models for the future. This presentation discusses why it is important to question and challenge these trends.

Bio: Sanjoy Bhattacharya is Director of the History Department’s Centre for Global Health Histories, Professor in the History of Medicine, a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator and the Head of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Global Health Histories (based at the University of York). Sanjoy specialises in the health, medical, environmental, political and social history of nineteenth and twentieth century South Asia, as well as the history and contemporary workings of international and global health programmes around the world. He has a BA from St Stephen’s College, University of Delhi, an MA from Jawaharlal Nehru University and a PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies. 


Devendra Khandait, Deputy Director and Country Lead, State Health Systems, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (India)

Dr. Devendra is a medical doctor and trained public health specialist with 20 years of management and leadership experience with large health and development programs in India, particularly in the fields of immunization, infectious diseases and disease surveillance.  Prior to joining the foundation, he worked for WHO’s National Polio Surveillance Project where he has led polio eradication efforts in various states.

Anjali Nayyar, Executive Vice President for Global Health Strategies (GHS)

Anjali Nayyar has more than 20 years of experience in global health issues. Her expertise lies in developing integrated advocacy and communications strategies aimed at impacting health policy and practice. She oversees the organization’s programs in emerging markets in Asia and Africa working through four offices and independent consultants.