Report by Dr. Bentley on the investigation
into the causes of malaria in Bombay
and the measures necessary for its
General Department. Bombay Castle,
No. 4125 6th July 1911.
Letter from the Chairman, Malaria Investigation Committee, dated 16th June 1911 -
Para. 136.
Para. 68.
Para. 208.
Paras. 383.
Para. 126.
"I have the honour, on behalf of the Malaria Committee, to forward a report submitted
by Dr. Bentley on the causes and preventibility of malaria in Bombay. We would point
out in forwarding the report that, while the report shows the condition of the city to be in
many respects most serious, it also gives good ground for believing in the possibility of
effective remedial action. The figures given by Dr. Bentley in paragraphs 66 and 67 show
the appalling prevalence of the disease, especially among children, in several parts of the
town, while the annual pecuniary loss of 13 lakhs, which he calculates the disease to cause
to the city, is only an indication of the suffering that is inflicted. On the other hand,
Dr. Bentley makes it clear that the Island of Bombay is not naturally very malarious.
He points out that there is no connection between the disease and climatic causes, while
many of the natural conditions are favourable for dealing with the disease. It is the
highly developed southern portion of the Island which is stricken with malaria, and every
outbreak that has occurred, whether in Mazagaon, Malabar Hill, the New Docks or in the
Fort Division, has been traceable to some clear and eradicable source. In view of the
large works of development which are inevitable in Bombay, it is reassuring to know that
such large works do not necessarily cause outbreaks of malaria. Various works have been
completed without any outbreak, and even at the new docks, where the work is popularly
supposed to have caused the severe epidemic of 1908, Dr. Bentley shows that this out-
break only occurred three years after the commencement of the undertaking. Dr. Bentley's
conclusions may, we think, be accepted that such outbreaks are inevitable only when a
permanent source of infection exists in the neighbourhood.
Para. 74.
Para. 222.
Para. 76.
"2. The artificial nature of the hold of malaria is further established by the case of
the Parsi community. As Dr. Bentley points out, this community is much above the
average in their general standard of living, in education, and in their readiness to take
advantage of medical advice. They are, moreover, not so liable to be affected by a rise in
the prices of necessary food stuffs, the effect of which is so immediate in increasing malaria.
Yet this community suffers, as Dr. Bentley's figures show, far more than any other from
malaria. If it could be imagined that this was due to any racial susceptibility, this would
be disproved by the fact that in D Ward the Parsis do not suffer more than the other
races. Moreover, in the wards in which they are chiefly affected, other races suffer, though
not to the same extent, yet very severely and far more than in other wards. That the
incidence of the disease coincides with the presence of a large number of wells-many of
them inside houses-cannot be said to be accidental. The figures in Dr. Bentley's para-
graph 167 show that 75 percent. of the breeding places of the most dangerous anopheles
mosquito were to be found in these wells and cisterns, and it must be taken that these
wells and cisterns are the chief local cause of infection.
Para. 433.
"3. The necessity for early action appears obvious. The state of the southern
portion of the Island is already serious, and important works are in progress or in
contemplation the proximity of which to permanent sources of infection may always cause
another epidemic. Moreover, the development of the northern portion of the Island is
rapidly progressing. There is a constant stream of migration towards it from the southern
portion, and improved means of communication, also involving the means of spreading the
disease, are being provided. Dr. Bentley declares, and we think proves, that the eradica.
tion of the disease is possible, but the difficulties of the task will clearly be greatly
increased by further delay.
"4. It cannot be said that measures taken in the past have been such as to be really
effectual. Although the Corporation began to move in the matter in 1902, practically no
good was done till 1909, and the epidemic of 1908 was particularly severe. Since 1909
some improvement has been caused by the action taken near the docks, and the reduction
in the spleen rate quoted by Dr. Bentley in his paragraph 293 shows the beneficial results
of this action. The Municipality have greatly improved the condition of the Bhandarwada
Reservoir and are taking similar action at Malabar Hill. The Health Department have also
devoted a large amount of attention to the destruction of mosquito larv and have reported
a large number of wells to the Standing Committee for action. The measures taken,
however, by the Standing Committee are necessarily slow, and the Health Officer's quarterly
reports indicate that the rate at which wells are dealt with is not so rapid as to prevent the
spread of the disease.
Genl 483-1