March 3, 2021

Letters: A Scourge Undiminished

To the Editor:

Re “Of Management and Mosquito Nets” (Off the Shelf, Aug. 21), a review by Bryan Burrough of “Lifeblood: How to Change the World, One Dead Mosquito at a Time”:

This was insightful, but contained two important errors. First, malaria was not “all but eliminated by the 1960s.” Rather, despite successes in other areas, malaria has consistently been an overwhelming problem in sub-Saharan Africa.

Second, Apac, Uganda, where my group has ongoing research, is not a former “ghost town” populated by “zombies” that has now returned to normalcy, as “Lifeblood” apparently states. Rather, things were never that bad (malaria is an unrelenting killer of children, but Africans cope, and their villages are unfairly characterized with reference to science fiction movies), and things have not yet improved too much.

In countless African villages, children repeatedly contract malaria, many die or are chronically ill, and the societal cost is huge. With new control measures, there is hope for marked improvement, but it is not helpful to imply that solutions are simple or that we are already most of the way there.Philip J. Rosenthal

University of California, San Francisco, Aug. 22

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