/////World Smallpox Leader: UAMS Helping Prepare for Bioterrorism
World Smallpox Leader: UAMS Helping Prepare for Bioterrorism 2018-01-05T09:09:15+00:00

DEC. 12, 2003 | Arkansas is ahead of many states in preparing the health care workforce for a potential bioterrorism attack because the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) has an excellent statewide network for training, the man who led the worldwide eradiation of smallpox said here yesterday.“They have done a great deal of good work here,” D. A. Henderson, M.D., M.P.H., said.  “The difference between now and 9-11 is like night and day.”

Dr. Henderson stressed in remarks at UAMS that the threat of terrorist or military attack using biological weapons has refocused world attention on the importance of public health infrastructure. 

“We’re going to have additional organisms coming from outside the country,” he said.  “Everyone

[was] somewhat complacent” until the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. Today city and state governments are much better prepared to respond to natural or weaponized epidemics, although much remains to be done, he said.

Dr. Henderson delivered a Winthrop Rockefeller Distinguished Lecture at UAMS Dec. 11. He led the smallpox campaign for the World Health Organization in 1966-77 and subsequently has been a top science advisor to three presidents, dean of public health at Johns Hopkins University, and the founding director of the Center for Biosecurity at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

The Winthrop Rockefeller Distinguished Lectures series is a program of the University of Arkansas System. Friends of the late Governor Winthrop Rockefeller funded the series in his memory. Dr. Henderson acknowledged the Rockefeller legacy, noting that Governor Rockefeller’s father, John D. Rockefeller, funded the 1909 campaign to eradicate hookworm disease, established the first schools of public health in the United States, and supported schools in 20 other nations. (Arkansas Lieutenant Governor Win Rockefeller, the late governor’s son, could not attend the lecture at UAMS but sent a representative who presented Dr. Henderson with an Arkansas Traveller’s certificate, the customary state gift to visiting dignitaries.)

Dr. Henderson praised UAMS for its network of regional programs including the nationally recognized UAMS Area Health Education Centers (AHECs). The federal Department of Health and Human Services in September designated UAMS the lead agency for training health care workers statewide to respond to epidemics.

A giant in the history of public health, Dr. Henderson captivated the large audience in John E. Pauly Auditorium with a dramatic telling of the WHO smallpox campaign, in which he expanded the simple strategy of surveillance and containment that he first oversaw in west Africa to eliminate the disease around the globe by 1977. His story became chilling when he described how Russia began producing smallpox virus for use as a weapon of mass destruction in 1981, creating a production program Dr. Henderson said became larger than its nuclear weapons program. The whereabouts of the virus, technology, and employees of that program are unknown today, making the risk of attack using weaponized smallpox small but real, Dr. Henderson said.

Links on This Page

UAMS Receives: http://www.uams.edu/today/2003/091703/Bioterrorism.htm
UAMS Celebrates: http://www.uams.edu/today/2003/063003/AHEC.htm

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