A NEW antibiotic Chloromycetin has been clinically tested in the treatment of typhoid fever and has been found to exhibit significant chemotherapeutic effects. A description of the results in 10 cases is submitted as a preliminary report.
Malnutrition is one of the most important causes of ill-health in Malaya. The incidence of deficiency diseases was extremely high during the Japanese occupation, but there has been satisfactory improvement since 1945, though in some respects, particularly in the case of beriberi, this improvement can only be regarded as due to artificial and transitory circumstances, mainly the importation of Australian wheat. Surveys have recently been undertaken of nutritional status in rural areas in Malaya, embracing clinical, dietary, sociological and economic aspects of the problem. Data derived from clinical examinations, height and weight data and vital statistics indicate deficiency in almost all nutrients, and these are confirmed by dietary survey. Poverty is the main cause of the poor dietary intake. Investigations have shown that protein and calorie intakes are directly related to the money available in the family for expenditure on food. Vitamin A and riboflavin intakes are, on the other hand, largely uninfluenced by economic factors and their deficiency in the diet is mainly a matter of ignorance, prejudice and the unavailability of foodstuffs rich in these nutrients. As the economic side of the survey showed that the money spent on food, in most families, is over 80 per cent. of the total expenditure, the problem is clearly an economic one, and can only be solved by country-wide measures of increased and better food production, education and economic betterment. Dean A. Smith.
The author during a long tropical service has seen a distressing number of cases of tropical neurasthenia including a number that ended in suicide. The condition is common in Malaya of which he is writing. In a group of rubber plantations with an average staff of 75 (presumably Europeans) in the past two years, one has committed suicide, eight have been repatriated for nervous breakdown, and two have been sent on home leave for the same reason. In a series of 33 invalidings analysed by SQUIRES [no reference given] 45 per cent.  were for psychological reasons. Neurasthenia in the tropics differs from that seen in practice in temperate countries by the predominance of cerebral over spinal symptoms. The mild cases show increased irritability with occasional outbursts of uncon rolled rages, restlessness, and moderate amnesia. In the intermediate cases these symptoms are worse and periods of worry and depression occur, often amounting to delusions of persecution with insomnia. In the severe cases, the depression is predominant; to this is added procrastination and indecision, loss of confidence, fear of insanity and of loss of employment, which constitute a vicious cycle that may end in suicide. The author classes the causes as personal and environmental, the former being the more important; the prominence of the personal factor is due to the tendency for social misfits and others who are dissatisfied with home conditions to seek employment in the tropics where they hope to find life easier. The environmental factors are (i) Exile from one's own country and loss of firm roots in a place that one calls home, (ii) The excessive stimuli of the tropics; under this heading the author includes the direct effects of the climate and discusses the sexual factor, (iii) Overwork and excessive responsibility, (iv) Isolation and monotony; under this last heading [the sequence of thought is obscure to the reviewer] he includes a suggestion that the recent increased rate of breakdown in Malaya may be due to years of war strain and present economic and political difficulties. The preventive measures he advocates include more careful selection of candidates for service in the tropics and the suggestion that a psychiatric assessment as well as a physical examination should be made; more frequent home leave; annual local leave to a hill station; shorter office hours; more security of tenure of appointments in commercial undertakings; and freedom to marry early in his service. Finally, the author suggests that, since this problem is an admittedly serious one, the Malayan branch of the British Medical Association should make a study of its aetiology and prevention, and convey their conclusions to the Government and to commercial and industrial associations. L. E. Napier.
The main contention of the author is that although the tuberculosis problem is serious enough in Malaya, it is not so disastrous as some reports have indicated. He quotes death rates which compare favpurably with many European rates, though not with all. For instance, the death rate from tuberculosis in London between 1938 and 1946 varied around 80 per 100, 000; the rate for Kuala Lumpur in 1938 was 78, and this rose to 128 and 140 in 1946 and 1947 respectively. Compared with the war-time increases, in Warsaw, Rome, Prague and Paris, these rates are not high. In the State of Selangor the rate for 1937 was 71, rising to 86 in 1947. [It would have been interesting if the author had given an indication of how complete medical certification of death is in Kuala Lumpur and the other parts of Selangor. In the towns, no doubt, most deaths are correctly certified, but a reader is. not certain that in more remote places deaths, actually due to tuberculosis, may not have been ascribed by the head-men to other causes.] Charles Wilcocks.
This presidential address delivered at the Annual Meeting of the Malaya Branch of the British Medical Association deals with the history of the impact of western medicine on Malaya. In the early years curative medicine monopolized attention. A Port Quarantine Service was established in 1900 but serious attention to preventive medicine had to wait till 1911 When the Health Service of the then Federated Malay States was founded. Rubber had brought amazing prosperity and disease prevention yielded increased dividends. The address provides much interesting information about Malaya, its peoples and their diseases, and the efforts made by research workers and health departments to control disease prevalence during the last 28 years: this does not lend itself to summary. For the future, outstanding tasks include the application of recently acquired knowledge and techniques to the control of malaria; an allout attack on tuberculosis; much more attention to nutrition and deficiency diseases, and an orientation of the work of the Health Services towards social medicine. Norman White.
This is an interesting piece of Colonial history, compiled, one presumes, from official reports. It cannot satisfactorily be summarized. The author deals with his subject under various heads: hospitals, health legislation, dangerous infectious diseases, prevailing diseases, beriberi, fever and malaria, dysentery, and diarrhoea, influenza and enteric fever. In a table are given the numbers of cases of smallpox, cholera, plague, beriberi, dysentery, diarfhoea and fevers reported each year from 1890 to 1939. The only one of these to show steady reduction is beriberi, which began to decline from figures over 2,000 per annum before the 1914-18 war to 69-444 per annum from 1930 to 1939. Plague was never common and neither cholera nor smallpox was responsible for large numbers of cases. The author does not give any systematic accounts of the outstanding investigations made during the period, but rather quotes opinions expressed by Government servants, medical or lay, in their reports. Charles Wilcocks.
MeSH terms: Beriberi; Cholera; Communicable Diseases; Diarrhea; Dysentery; Fever; History of Medicine; Malaysia; Smallpox; History, 19th Century
1.This paper records the treatment by a continuous intravenous quinine drip technique of fifteen cases of heavy P. falciparum infection in malnourished prisoners of war in a Singapore camp. These cases were selected from a series of approximately 1,000.2.The efficiency of the method, its simplicity, and the ease with which it can be combined with blood transfusion or the slow administration of thiamin are stressed.3.Recovery by this method of treatment is recorded of three cases with a peripheral intensity of infection higher than has hitherto been reported in Malaya with survival.4.The author is of the opinion that this is a safe and effective method for the treatment of pernicious falciparum infections.
This is an interesting comparison between the types of leprosy seen among Chinese, Malays and Indians in Malaya, based on a large experience. The disease is most virulent among Chinese and least so among Indians, three-fourths of the cases among the latter being of mild tuberculoid disease with a tendency to self-healing, but among the Chinese only one-third are of the tuberculoid type. The climate of Malaya is of the hot humid type, in which leprosy flourishes. On the other hand, a higher standard of living than in India tends to hinder the spread of the disease. The age incidence is important. Among, the Chinese, early macules are commonly found in children of 5 to 15 years of age, most of which tend to clear up, but in about one-fourth tuberculoid lesions develop and may go on to the lepromatous condition, especially if the onset of the tuberculoid stage occurs early. When a reliable history is obtained in Chinese, in nearly every lepromatous case a tuberculoid stage was first observed, commonly in the age group 16-40. In a smaller number of persons of over 40 years of age, the proportion of tuberculoid cases is very much higher, but the tendency to become lepromatous is very much less. Major tuberculoid cases are more liable than minor to become lepromatous, but nerve thickening in tuberculoid leprosy is less evident in Chinese than in Indians and it is rare in children and in those over 40. In view of the foregoing peculiarity of the evolution of leprosy in tuberculoid cases in Chinese subjects, active treatment is necessary, in order to prevent them becoming lepromatous. For this purpose, intradermal injections are of little value and they tend to obscure any evolutionary changes. Hydnocarpus oil or esters (deep subcutaneous injections) should therefore be pushed to the limit of tolerance in doses of 1 cc. per 10 pounds body weight twice weekly, or 30 cc. per week, for a patient of 150 Ibs. as a minimum and increased by at least fifty per cent, in acute or reacting cases, when improvement may be expected within three months. Some years' experience of this intensive treatment as compared with weekly injections of 1-5 cc. has shown much more marked improvement and much less incidence of lepromatous change with the high doses. In lepromatous cases, reactions should be avoided, but dosage should be as high as possible short of producing increased erythrocyte sedimentation and plantar pain on heavy stroking. Surveys of school children are of great importance in finding the early macular stage and their discovery may lead to the detection of infective adults who require to be segregated. L. Rogers.
MeSH terms: Humans; Leprosy/epidemiology*; Malaysia; Asian Continental Ancestry Group*