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Malaria During FDR's Term

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill that created the Tennessee Valley Authority, on May 18, 1933. The law gave the federal government a centralized body to control the Tennessee river's potential for hydroelectric power, and improve the land and waterways for development of the region. An organized and effective malaria-control program stemmed from this new authority in the Tennessee River valley. Malaria affected 30 percent of the population in the region when the TVA was incorporated, in 1933. The Public Health Service played a vital role in the research and control operations and, by 1947, the disease was essentially eliminated. Mosquito breeding sites were reduced by controlling water levels, and insecticide applications.

Eradication of Malaria in the United States (1947-1951)

The National Malaria Eradication Program, a cooperative undertaking by state and local health agencies of 13 Southeastern states and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), originally proposed by Louis Laval Williams, commenced operations on July 1, 1947. By the end of 1949, over 4,650,000 house-spray applications had been made. In 1947, 15,000 malaria cases were reported. By 1950, only 2,000 cases were reported. By 1951, malaria was considered to be eradicated from the United States.

Malaria History: Eradication Efforts Worldwide

With the success of DDT, the advent of less toxic, more effective synthetic antimalarials, and the enthusiastic and urgent belief that time and money were of the essence, the World Health Organization (WHO) submitted an ambitious proposal, at the World Health Assembly in 1955, for the eradication of malaria worldwide. Eradication efforts began and focused on house spraying with residual insecticides, antimalarial drug treatment, and surveillance, and were carried out in four successive steps:
  • Preparation
  • Attack
  • Consolidation
  • Maintenance.
Successes included eradication in nations with temperate climates and seasonal malaria transmission. Some countries, such as India and Sri Lanka, had sharp reductions in the number of cases, followed by increases to substantial levels after efforts ceased. Other nations had negligible progress (such as Indonesia, Afghanistan, Haiti, and Nicaragua). Some nations were excluded completely from the eradication campaign (e.g., most of sub-Saharan Africa). The emergence of drug resistance, widespread resistance to available insecticides, wars, massive population movements, difficulties obtaining sustained funding from donor countries, and lack of community participation made the long-term maintenance of the effort untenable. Eventually, a strategy of control and containment replaced the eradication campaign.
This article is based on material from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Web site.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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