THERE IS A SCHOOL of thought which holds that tropical diseases impede successful development in the tropics-- and will always so impede it because it is more difficult to control illness in the tropics than in the middle latitudes. The uniform warm and humid climate, argue the adherents of that school, is ideal for the propagation of disease germs as well as of insects and other vectors which spread such germs. There may or may not be some grains of truth in what they say. Their philosophy is nevertheless vicious in that it is fatalistic and therefore defeatist. It is opposed and refuted by many public-health experts who actually work in the tropics.
It is nonsense, say the latter, to lay the blame for tropical illnessess on the natural climate when the man-made social and economic climate is so obviously bad in the tropics that health conditions must be bad to correspond. In the middle latitudes, in the countries which are economically developed, standards of living are sufficiently high so that malnutrition of the majority is not a health problem. The majority, moreover, takes an adequate sanitary environment so for granted that they ignore it and feel free to credit their supposedly superior natural climate for their grantedly superior health. They are surrounded by municipal, state, and national health organizations, alerted, equipped, and financed to deal im-