Rosenberg J, Ahmad I, Weintraub R. Smallpox Eradication: A Blueprint for Future Public Health Strategy. 2022.Abstract

    In this teaching case, Dr. William Foege - the former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who many credit with eradicating smallpox - helps readers understand what it took to eradicate it. The case gives background information on the disease, as well as earlier immunization efforts, and describes how the social, political, and economic complexities of India impacted public health initiatives. As international endeavors to fight smallpox expanded in the 1960s, India continued to account for a disproportionate percentage of new cases. Cases remained high until a more organized and targeted strategy in the 1970s increased staffing, improved reporting, boosted vaccination rates, and expanded national and international resources. Specific national and local strategies, a coordinated and centralized decision making structure, and an understanding of and clear communication with the population were crucial to the nation’s success. The state of Bihar was the most challenging state to address, with cases remaining stubbornly high. A final campaign intensified surveillance, containment, and vaccination efforts in Bihar, and the Global Commission for the Certification of Smallpox Eradication declared India smallpox-free in 1977. The case ends with Dr. Foege wondering what lessons from smallpox eradication in India can be applied to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as future threats.

    Learning Objectives:

    This case documents the eradication of smallpox in India. A productive class discussion will allow students to appreciate the following:

    • The role of power dynamics in global health
    • The role of data and the importance of measuring the right outcome to inform program management 
    • Human resource management and its relationship to stakeholder management
    • The relationship between disease presentation and public health strategy and decision-making
    • How to build on what is known in confronting new contexts, diseases, and environments

    Exhibit 5a Decade in Which Smallpox Ceased to be Endemic by Country

    Keywords: India, public health, pandemic response, vaccine delivery, workforce management, collaboration, multilateral engagement


    Dhillon R, Rhatigan J. The Measles Initiative. Harvard Business Publishing. 2011.Abstract

    This case examines the work of the Measles Initiative (MI), a consortium of multiple international organizations, in helping catalyze a global effort to reduce worldwide measles-related mortality by expanding delivery of measles vaccinations. After providing background information on the biology of the measles virus and the epidemiology of measles, it recounts the formation of the MI, its partnership structure, its goals, its program design, and its financing. The case focuses on how multilateral global health initiatives coordinate with national governments to improve health care delivery. By 2009, the MI had made significant gains in reducing measles mortality, but was facing decreased funding and was questioning its strategy going forward.

    Teaching Note available through Harvard Business Publishing.

    Clinical Presentations of Measles
    Clinical Presentations of Measles. Image A Source: CDC: Image 132. Public Health Image Library. Available at: Image B Source: CDC: Image 6887. Public Health Image Library. Available at (Exhibit 1 from “The Measles Initiative” case.)

    Learning Objectives: To understand how multi-lateral, international disease-control initiatives are designed, coordinated, and financed and to examine how these initiatives interact with national health systems to achieve their objectives.

    Keywords: Coordination of multilateral global health initiatives and national governments, international partnerships, measles vaccination campaigns, strategy