This book documents the primary role of acute hunger (semi- and frank starvation) in the ‘fulminant’ malaria epidemics that repeatedly afflicted the northwest plains of British India through the first half of colonial rule. Using Punjab vital registration data and regression analysis it also tracks the marked decline in annual malaria mortality after 1908 with the control of famine, despite continuing post-monsoonal malaria transmission across the province.
The study establishes a time-series of annual malaria mortality estimates for each of the 23 plains districts of colonial Punjab province between 1868 and 1947 and for the early post-Independence years (1948-60) in (East) Punjab State. It goes on to investigate the political imperatives motivating malaria policy shifts on the part of the British Raj. This work reclaims the role of hunger in Punjab malaria mortality history and, in turn, raises larger epistemic questions regarding the adequacy of modern concepts of nutrition and epidemic causation in historical and demographic analysis.
Part of The Social History of Health and Medicine in South Asia series, this book will be useful to scholars and researchers of colonial history, modern history, social medicine, social anthropology and public health.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction PART I. Epidemic Malaria in Punjab: The Rain-‘Scarcity’ Model 2. Malaria in the Punjab (1911) 3. Theoretical and Methodological Issues 4. Testing the Rain-Price Epidemic Model 5. Outliers to the Rain-Price Epidemic Model 6. Mechanisms of ‘Intense’ Malaria PART II. Colonial Malaria Control: Policy and Practice 7. Pre-1909 Malaria Policy 8. The ‘Human Factor’ Articulated 9. Post-Simla: Malaria Control in Practice PART III. Shifts in Food Security, 1868-1947 10. Relief of ‘Established’ Famine: 1880-1900 11. The Shift to Famine Prevention 12. Acute Hunger and Malaria Lethality: ‘Test’ Cases Post-1940 13. Conclusion. Appendix. Bibliography
Sheila Zurbrigg is a physician and independent scholar based in Toronto, Canada. Her health history research investigates rising life expectancy in South Asian history in relation to food security. She has served as Short-Term Epidemiologist for the World Health Organization, Smallpox Eradication Program, Uttar Pradesh and Coordinator, Village Health Worker Program, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India. She has also held appointments as Adjunct Professor, International Development Studies, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada; Visiting Scholar, York University, Toronto, Canada; and Visiting Scholar, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. Her work with traditional village midwives in rural Tamil Nadu (1975–79) led to the analysis of child survival in contemporary India in relation to food security and conditions of women’s work. In 1985, she turned to South Asian health history research, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Ottawa), and is currently investigating the epistemic shifts leading to loss of understanding of the role of acute hunger in the region’s malaria mortality history. Among her forthcoming work is her second monograph Uncoupling Disease and Destitution: The Case of South Asian Malaria History.