Medical And Public Health History


In the early stages of medical and public health history, much trial and error were involved in finding treatments that worked, including vaccination. The medical history of smallpox is long and complicated; to put it briefly, it was the first disease to be eliminated globally. It killed millions of people in previous centuries, and there was no cure for it. The primary and secondary sources assigned for this week shed light on the process and politics of smallpox eradication.


The history of smallpox vaccination is fraught with intimidation, coercion, and resistance. Manela (2015) discusses the milestones in the control of this deadly disease. The development of a vaccine was seen as a potential savior, and scientists all over the world raced to find a practical solution. However, many people were resistant to the idea of being vaccinated, and governments used scare tactics to try and force people into getting vaccinated (Manela, 2015). The British attempted to vaccinate the entire population of India within a short period, and many Indians resisted because they did not understand or trust the British. Overall, Manela’s (2015) work contributes to the debate on the politics of smallpox eradication. It highlights the unique factors involved in the process, such as colonization.


The successful campaign to eradicate smallpox was troubled by political disagreements and opposition to vaccination. The article by Greenough (1995) explores the implementation of “coercive methods in the final stages of the Smallpox Eradication Programme” in 1973-1975 (p. 633). There were many reasons people resisted smallpox vaccination, including religious, political, personal, or cultural beliefs. Greenough (1995) examines what public health measures were introduced in different regions to eliminate smallpox. Furthermore, actual and perceived misuse of power is discussed concerning the problem. Both sources discussed in this paper contribute to the global discussion on public safety and highlight the measures implemented to control contagious diseases.


Greenough P. (1995). Intimidation, coercion and resistance in the final stages of the South Asian Smallpox Eradication Campaign, 1973-1975. Social Science & Medicine,41(5), 633-645. h

Manela, E. (2015). The politics of smallpox eradication. In J. R. McNeill & K. Pomeranz (Eds.), The Cambridge world history (pp. 258-282). Cambridge University Press.