The World Health Organisation has been celebrating the virtual eradication of smallpox. In Africa, the?
GV EXTERIOR: Open ground and coast at Somalia
SV Sign Smalia eradication office, ZOOM OUT to show eradication team in Merka leaving office and entering Land Rover
SV AND GV People in market in Merka (2 shots)
GV Members of eradication team handing out posters to people in market (3 shots)
GV Eradication team members arriving at refugee camp at Korriolei
SV Eradication team members calling people out of hut and examining smallpox inoculations
CU Small child being inoculated
GV PAN FROM Beach TO SV Merka hospital
SV AND CU Smallpox poster (2 shots)
GV Dr. Zdenek Jezek of World Health Organisation, Smallpox eradication organiser, examining Ali Malin for signs of Smallpox
CU Woman and child looking on
SV Dr. Jezek with Ali Malin, speaking in English
DR JEZEK: "As far as I am concerned, I believe surely that it is the last case in the world".
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Background: The World Health Organisation has been celebrating the virtual eradication of smallpox. In Africa, the last infected continent, a year has passed without a single case of the disease.
SYNOPSIS: Somalia and the rest of Africa have been free from smallpox for a year. Elsewhere, a woman died in Britain from the disease, but the World Health Organisation describes the case as a 'freak' event. It involved laboratory experiments with smallpox virus.
The last natural breeding ground of smallpox was in the Horn of Africa, in towns like Merka in Somalia. A ten year programme by the W.H.O. (World Health Organisation) culminated last year in the Horn with an intensive programme to eliminate the disease completely. In 1977, more than three thousand cases were found in Somalia, which appeared to be the only infected area remaining.
Health officials described the exercise in Somalia as a remarkable example of cooperation between the Western World and developing countries. Eight hundred Somalis were searching for sufferers and suspected cases, supervised by as many as twenty four foreign experts working for the World Health Organisation.
Health officials say they are now confident of having beaten the disease. The more serious from of smallpox has already been eradicated on the Indian subcontinent, and the milder African variated kills only rarely. Both cause fever and pockmark which often cover the whole body. But surveillance still goes on, with Somalia and foreign experts checking towns, villages and refugee camps.
It was in Merka, where children are still being inoculated, that the last case of smallpox occurred a year ago. It was discovered when a Land Rover arrived at the hospital containing two children suspected of having smallpox.
Dr. Zdenek Jezek, of the World Health Organisation, believes Ali Malin, a cook at the hospital, was the last person to contract smallpox naturally.