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Epidemic: Speedboat Epidemiology

Epidemic: Speedboat Epidemiology

Shahidul Haq Khan and Tim Miner were both American workers with the World Health Organization who worked on a smallpox elimination team in Bangladesh during the 1970s. The team was on a hospital boat and used speedboats to search for cases of smallpox in the area from Barishal, Faridpur, to Patuakhali. The team wanted to make sure that every person who consented to the vaccination prevented an outbreak. 

The duo leaned on each other, sometimes literally, as they traversed the country’s rugged and watery geography. Khan, whom Miner sometimes referred to as “little brother,” used his local knowledge to help the team navigate both the cultural and physical landscape. When crossing rickety bamboo bridges, he would hold Miner’s hand and help him across. “We didn’t let him fall,” chuckled Khan. 

Episode 4 of “Eradicating Smallpox” explores what it took to bring care directly to people where they were. 

To conclude the episode, host Céline Gounder speaks with public health advocate Joe Osmundson about his work to help coordinate a culturally…

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