Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


This is coolbert:

Tropical diseases comeback.

This comment by a reader was also made:

"Now that there has been progress against tropical health hazards, it would seem that it is the worthless places which still have virulent malaria, bad water diseases, etc."

This is true.

There has been a lot of progress made toward the prevention of tropical diseases.

A lot of the basic research concerning tropical disease prevention has had a strong military connection .

Such as the search for an inoculation against yellow fever.

Yellow feaver has for a long tme been a destroyer of troops and even whole armies. An entire French army sent by Napoleon to put down a rebellion in Haiti was annihilated by yellow fever!!

The desire to prevent yellow fever amongst U.S. Army troops in Cuba. led to the pioneering research of Dr. Walter Reed.

During the digging of the Panama Canal, the research of Walter Reed was instrumental in formulating policies to eradicate the mosquito that carried yellow fever. Policies that led to a successful military style campaign that basically eliminated the yellow fever carrying mosquito. The "big ditch" was completed due to this disease eliminating prophylactic.

"Similarly, the same techniques [techniques used by Walter Reed in Cuba] were used a few years later in Panama, which had suffered regular and devastating yellow fever epidemics. Panama has not seen even a single case since. It is widely held that it was only then possible to build the Panama Canal. This is another example of how the pressures of war can lead to a powerful and useful medical innovation."

Sadly enough, the fight against tropical disease is deteriorating in some areas. The incessant warfare found in parts of sub-Saharan Africa [black Africa], has meant that preventative care is now totally lacking. Where great progress was once had, now a situation of chaos exists. Brought upon by warlords and their never-ending wars.

Brutal wars in west Africa have caused trained medical personnel to flee. Medicines are next to non-existent. Prophylactic measures have been abandoned for want of the most meager resources. All because of war.

[malaria can easily be combated and contained by the use of micro-netting. Used when sleeping. Prevents mosquito bites from transmitting the disease. Diets can easily be improved dramatically with the simple addition of micro-nutrients. Better diet means better health, which lessens susceptibility to disease. Just for a small cost per person, a lot of prevention can be had. This is not happening. Chaos and instability from war is to blame.]

"Supplements of both vitamin A and zinc may boost children's resistance to malaria, which kills 600,000 young children each year, according to early evidence from a study in Papua New Guinea. One third of children receiving vitamin A had lower fevers due to mild to moderately high levels of malaria parasites."

NONE of this can be done in the chaotic situations created by war.

In the years prior to the Rhodesian war, the "white" government had instituted a program to eradicate the tse-tse fly. Carries sleeping sickness, infecting humans and domestic animals. This program was ALMOST successful. The war against "white" rule stopped the program. A program that was NOT re-instituted by the black government of the dictator Mugabe. Mugabe has money to buy MIG-29 jet aircraft, but not money for eradicating a terrible pest. Such are the priorities of dictators.

The various warlords and militias at their command are also doing immense environmental damage. Damage that will only exacerbate the disease problem. Experts are of the belief that a whole lot more dangerous diseases currently unknown to science lurk in the jungles of central Africa. All that clear cutting of forests, and mining for coltan will release these diseases such as Ebola into the human population, wreaking terrible havoc.

[one of the most interesting scientific endeavors of recent memory was the mega-transect of central Africa by the American scientist Michael Fay. Walked across a good portion of the remaining rain forest surveying the flora and fauna as he went. Surprisingly found large pre-historic terraced areas and large pre-historic mounds of cola nuts. Indicates that a massive population must have at one time occupied and area that for all of recorded history has been only been rain forest. People 2000 years ago cleared much of the forest and planted crops on the land. Something wiped them out. Disease from the jungle??? Nothing is really known for sure.]

War can be bad for your health!!! Especially so in the jungle or around the jungle!!



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