Forecasting of Epidemic Malaria in the Punjab, India

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For over two decades the Punjab Public Health Department, India, had been issuing forecasts of the probable incidence of epidemic malaria based on the method developed by Gill. This method utilises information pertaining to rainfall, enlargement of spleen among school children, economic conditions and the variability of malaria incidence in individual localities recorded in previous years.

In this paper the success attained in these forecasts has been assessed and a brief reference made to further work carried out in recent years to improve the method of forecasting. It has been shown that the method so far employed did possess usefulness.

Recent work has indicated:

  1. a.The existence of periodicity of about eight years duration in the incidence of malaria.
  2. b.The existence of association between rainfall in the month of May and the incidence of epidemic malaria in the fall and that
  3. c.Contrary to the belief held by Gill, the data bearing on enlargement of spleen in a community do not appear to be of help in providing an adequate basis for the forecasting of epidemics.

The Punjab could perhaps claim a unique position in as much as it is in this province that attempts were made to develop and bring into administrative use a method for forecasting epidemics of malaria. In view of the partition of India into the two dominions of the Union of India and Pakistan, the province has now ceased to exist as a single entity. It is, therefore, of some interest to record the stage at which studies on the forecasting of epidemic malaria had to be terminated.

Author Notes

East Punjab Public Health Department, Kasauli, Simla Hills, India.