The World Health Organisation (WHO) is to be asked to consider offering a world-wide reward, possibly of several thousand dollars, to anyone reporting a case of smallpox.
GV Kenyatta Conference Centre in Nairobi.
SV Dr. Isao Arita, Head of the World Health Organisation's Smallpox Programme. speaking in English. Newsmen look on.
Dr. Arita said that smallpox could be spread only by contact with a smallpox sufferer, so the elimination of the last case of the disease meant that smallpox could not recur. The only remaining risk, he said came from stocks of smallpox virus kept in an estimated 16 laboratories in nine countries. But the World Health Organisation was pressing for a reduction in the number laboratories keeping the virus, as a means of further reducing the minute risk of an accidental spread of smallpox. Dr. Arita said the cost of the smallpox eradication programme was about 300 million dollars. Half a billion doses of vaccine from international sources have been used in the campaign. With the final eradication of the disease, vaccinations will no longer be necessary, saving millions of dollars every year.
TRANSCRIPT: SEQ. 2: ARITA: "The meeting recognised that the world campaign now appears to have reached a turning point. No case of smallpox has been detected on the continent of Africa, or anywhere in the world for nearly six months. The last case recorded was in Merko town, Somalia, in October 1977. It was emphasised that intensive surveillance must continue for the next 18 months, to make sure that no possible hiding place for smallpox has been overlooked. Nothing that the reward system has already proved extremely effective in national programmes in locating cases of infection, the meeting suggested that the question of offering a global reward be considered by the World Health Organisation.
The report of the meeting noted that if no more cases of smallpox are detected, all countries in the Horn of Africa region will be eligible for certification by international commissions in October 1978. The World Health Organisation has also set up an international commission of eminent medical scientists, to be known as the Global Commission, to certify interruption of smallpox transmissions throughout the world."
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Background: The World Health Organisation (WHO) is to be asked to consider offering a world-wide reward, possibly of several thousand dollars, to anyone reporting a case of smallpox. This was announced by Dr. Isao Arita, the head of the WHP's smallpox programme, on Wednesday (19 April) at the end of a three-day conference in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi. The conference was held to study the progress of campaigns, which the organisation believes have finally conquered smallpox. There has been no case of the disease reported anywhere in the world for almost six months now. Surveillance will be maintained for a further 18 months, and if no cases are found in this period, experts will be satisfied that the disease has finally disappeared.
SYNOPSIS: The conference was held at the Kenyatta Conference Centre in Nairobi, and it was there that Dr. Arita spoke to newsmen.