I understand that the sentence means something like "This disease was eradicated 30 years ago", but I have no idea what role does 被 have in it?
Is the sentence okay if we remove it? Does it convey any special meaning when present?
被 + verb = passive form
根除 = eradicate
被根除 = be eradicated
Some verbs have active form with passive meaning, 根除 is one of them. So it's fine to remove 被 from this sentence.
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被 is the passive voice. It is the "was" in "the disease was eradicated.
But it is not the usual "was" in the sense of 是, which is a "state" verb.
Instead, the implication of 被 is, "was done."