The term 'tropical' refers to the region of the Earth lying between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Located between these equatorial parallels demarcating the Torrid Zone are several underdeveloped and developing countries: Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, southern India, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Cuba, Ethiopia, Sudan and Nigeria, to name but a few considered to be 'tropical'. The climate in most of these countries is characterized by high temperatures and high humidity. The tropical climate and general state of socio-economic underdevelopment in such countries provide an ideal environment for pathogenic organisms, their vectors and intermediate hosts to flourish. Furthermore, the cultural habits and educational background of the people living in such countries expose them to pathogens and, when these people become infected, they readily become reservoirs for, or carriers of, those organisms. Ultimately, the adverse socioeconomic conditions of underdeveloped countries impede attempts to eradicate or control tropical diseases.
This report highlights some of the educational aspects on nutrition and tropical diseases. Health conditions in most of the countries in this region has improved but not at the same pace as the progress in medical sciences. The slow progress in tackling this problem has been partly due to the failure of understanding psycho-social, cultural and economic patterns. Many of the health workers and educators who are involved in the control of tropical diseases emphasize on practice rather than research. Due emphasis should be given to training and research in health education involving not only the professionals and auxiliary staff but also political leaders, policy makers and community leaders at grassroot level.
Four cases of tropical myositis seen over a period of four months at the Penang General Hospital are reported here. All were young local residents in whom large amounts of pus were found deep within skeletal muscles without an obvious aetiological factor.