Smallpox Eraducation Programme Archives

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Target Zero Progress Reports

On 28 July 1972, SEP Chief DA Henderson designated September 1972 as the beginning of the "final phase" of the smallpox eradication programme. The objective of the final phase, to reduce smallpox to a nil incidence within 18 months, became known as "Target Zero".

The significance of this step cannot be overemphasized. The objectives of previous campaigns had been defined and measured in terms of the numbers of vaccinations performed, or the percent of population vaccinated. It was assumed that, sooner or later, smallpox would die out.

Under "Target Zero", every case or suspected case of smallpox represented a potential failure. Every suspect case of smallpox would be dealt with as a public health emergency. Containment measures would be promptly and effectively carried out. In addition, an active search for cases would be required in many areas.

Although the target proved to be optimistic, "Target Zero" became a unifying goal. "Target Zero" T-shirts and bumper stickers were produced. The symbol of participation in the SEP, a small pin called the "Order of the Bifurcated Needle", was a bifurcated needle bent into a "zero" shape.

Sculpture, Order of the Bifurcated Needle

Order of the Bifurcated Needle, bronze, David Henderson


Target Zero — Progress Reports were issued approximately every 4 weeks from December 1972 through March 1976:

1972 1973 1974 1975-76
16 Jan 1973 Report No. 3 16 Jan 1974 Report No. 18 7 Jan 1975 Report No. 29
2 Feb 1973 Report No. 4 11 Feb 1974 Report No. 19
27 Feb 1973 Report No. 5
19 Mar 1973 Report No. 6 11 Mar 1974 Report No. 20
2 Apr 1973 Report No. 7 11 Apr 1974 Report No. 21
17 Apr 1973 Report No. 8
8 May 1973 Report No. 9 13 May 1974 Report No. 22
5 Jun 1973 Report No. 10 14 Jun 1974 Report No. 23 2 Jun 1975 Report No. 30
28 Jul 1972 Sep 1972: Beginning of the "final phase" 20 Jul 1973 Report No. 11 31 Jul 1974 Report No. 24 11 Jul 1975 Report No. 31
14 Aug 1973 Report No. 12
31 Aug 1973 Report No. 13 29 Aug 1974 Report No. 25
28 Sep 1972 Progress and plans — The Final Phase 25 Sep 1973 Report No. 14
22 Oct 1973 Report No. 15 1 Oct 1974 Report No. 26 27 Oct 1975 Report No. 32
1 Dec 1972 Report No. 1 19 Nov 1973 Report No. 16 5 Nov 1974 Report No. 27
21 Dec 1972 Report No. 2 17 Dec 1973 Report No. 17 9 Dec 1974 Report No. 28 22 Mar 1976 Report No. 33