ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Successes and Failures of Malaria Control

Malaria in the Social Context: A Study in Western India by Lancy Lobo (London, New York, New Delhi: Routledge), 2010; pp xiv + 213 (hardback), Rs 595.

Malaria is one of the biggest ­killer diseases in the developing world today. Despite the immense advances that have fundamentally changed medical science in the past 50 years or so, malaria, a relatively ­older disease (compared to newer killers such as AIDS and SARS) has maintained its position as a dreaded and ­debilitating disease.

In this book Lancy Lobo studies ­malaria in its social context in three villages in the Surat district of contem­porary Gujarat. The title of the book refers to “western India”, therefore, the statistics, fieldwork and conclusions derived refer to the three ecologically distinct villages that the author has studied. Through a closely-written account of the disease and its manifestations and descriptions of the state-aided provisions for anti-malaria programmes in the three villages, Lobo produces an exhaustive account of the successes as well as failures of malaria control in contemporary India. There have been three fundamental changes in the history of the disease itself in the past century. The first, of course, was the discovery and dissemination of the insect-vector theory of malaria, which helped to distinguish its causes from all other generic fevers. The second was the dissemination of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) which could destroy entire anopheline populations from the infected areas. The World Health Organisation (WHO) began its Malaria Eradication Programme (MEP) in 1953 after the huge initial successes of the DDT programme. The third major ­development was the creation of synthetic quinine and chloroquine, by ­German and later American pharmaceutical companies during the second world war. Both DDT and the commercial avail­ability of chloroquine contributed to enormous contemporary optimism on the part of both the international health agencies and new nation states about the total global eradication of malaria.

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