The Making of a Tropical Disease


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The Making of a Tropical Disease

, 320 pages

2 halftones, 19 line drawings

December 2007



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The Making of a Tropical Disease

A Short History of Malaria

Winner, 2008 Book of the Year, End Malaria Awards, Malaria Foundation International

Malaria sickens hundreds of millions of people—and kills one to three million—each year. Despite massive efforts to eradicate the disease, it remains a major public health problem in poorer tropical regions. But malaria has not always been concentrated in tropical areas. How did other regions control malaria and why does the disease still flourish in some parts of the globe?

From Russia to Bengal to Palm Beach, Randall Packard’s far-ranging narrative traces the natural and social forces that help malaria spread and make it deadly. He finds that war, land development, crumbling health systems, and globalization—coupled with climate change and changes in the distribution and flow of water—create conditions in which malaria's carrier mosquitoes thrive. The combination of these forces, Packard contends, makes the tropical regions today a perfect home for the disease.

Authoritative, fascinating, and eye-opening, this short history of malaria concludes with policy recommendations for improving control strategies and saving lives.

Randall M. Packard is director of the Institute for the History of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of White Plague, Black Labor: Tuberculosis and the Political Economy of Health and Disease in South Africa and coeditor of Emerging Illnesses and Society: Negotiating the Public Health Agenda, also published by Johns Hopkins.

"What Randall M. Packard does masterfully in his book on malaria is to integrate the biological complexity of the disease into its historical, social and economic context, even if he stops short of drawing all the obvious conclusions from the data he so ably presents."

"Useful in collections that support tropical medicine, public health, and the history of medicine."

"A fine book... This short book carries through its thoughtful approach with admirable power and consistency."

"This is an excellent and well-balanced book that will be of interest to a wide audience."

"This is an interesting read—a short, well-written, and exceptionally well-documented history and commentary on the possible control—and, hopefully, eradication—of one of the world's major diseases."

"This is a remarkable book that will be of great interest to any historian working on the history of disease and to those historians who deal with the difficult question of how to write sound and clear general histories."

"Packard's is a terrific book that will guide the next generation of medical and environmental historians as global challenges to health persist and expand in the wake of unintended environmental change."

" The Making of a Tropical Disease is a vigorously argued and accessibly narrated ecological history of malaria, a contribution as much to social medicine and studies in the political economy of disease as to medical history."

"What gives a special energy to this volume is his conviction that the history of malaria is embedded in the history of development and that the lessons of this history must be applied to contemporary development policies."

"Packard’s lightness of touch allows his book to be both enjoyable and compelling, despite the frustration and heartbreak in his story."

"An excellent and well-balanced book that will be of interest to a wide audience. It should be required reading for all those contemplating a second malaria eradication campaign."

"The author can be congratulated for having tackled such a complex and difficult topic. His research and depth of knowledge on the topic as a historian are just amazing. He has also provided excellent references for further studies."

"Authoritative, fascinating, and eye-opening."

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