Malaria on the China Burma Highway

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A number of epidemics were reported along the China-Burma Highway in the southwest portion of Yunnan Province during the rainy season (summer) of 1939. As the diseases were making disastrous inroads on the hundreds of thousands of Chinese employed as laborers to maintain the road and as drivers to bring in war supplies, the Chinese Government requested the assistance of the United States Government. The Surgeon General, Dr. Parran, sent me with Dr. Bruce Mayne and Surgeon H. J. Bush to coöperate with the Chinese National Health Administration, Wei Sheng Shu. We were expected to determine the nature of the epidemics, to suggest methods for their control, and to train a group of Chinese doctors in such methods. As it was believed that pernicious malaria was the chief cause of deaths, equipment for establishing a laboratory for diagnosis and instruction was hurriedly assembled and we sailed for China.

On reaching Hong Kong we found that flying over the Japanese lines from there to Kunming was precluded by the cost of carry ing our supplies and equipment (the estimate being 10,000 Hong Kong dollars).