EPIDEMIOLOGICAL AND BIOLOGICAL STUDIES ON MALARIA IN BELOMORIE AND MAKEDONIA
Author: Ludvik Striburni
Editor's Note: Our efforts to present a consistent narrative on the problem of malaria control in Bulgaria have been dragging for some time and for reasonable concerns as such. At last, we decided to write a short introductory essay on the topic which should serve as a guideline to the main body of research /i.e., this should comprise a solid database of some dozen monographic works from authors such as K. Markov, M. Slivenski, etc. plus a whole current of "Therapeutic Monthly" from Bayer Pharmaceuticals/. This book we are reviewing at hand is written by sanitary colonel Lidvik Striburni, subsequently it represent the conclusive chapter of a long story to conquer a malady on the territory of this country.
We shall try to be explanatory, rather than administrative in our attempt to give an authoritative account of the subject matter. After some long hesitations, mostly of subjective character and dealing with the fragmentation of the data sources - viz., here is a bolstering step to give a clarification to this edifice, while following in a stepwise manner and being aware that this is research "on thin ice". Let us give our arguments in a list of contradictory issues and in the form of an open debate:
First Issue: Since our early efforts to write an objective history of medicine for the bulgarian lands, consequently we have been accumulating various sources and materials on ad hoc principle and been trying to find a unifying trace to connect our historical quilt. It has become extremely difficult to superimpose, for instance, what has been the viewpoint of contemporary historians of medicine /i.e., meaning those authoritative persons from academic and university media, whom you can interview on first hand/; further, this prevalent opinion has been in sharp contrast with what we have found in different personal archives and some rare unpublished materials, which for different reasons have disappeared from library shelves and we have to acquire them by our personal means. Sort of, to make our long story short and not to look or sound like a detective story, we decided to discard our most recent titles on the subject /cf., "Georgiev, P (editor). Annals of the Bulgarian Epidemiology in the XXth century", "Kushev, P. Health Status of the Bulgarian Population 1880-1980", etc. which are written by authors in the socialist period of this country and are full with one-sided nominations and misunderstandings/. This job being done and having overcome a major bias in our thinking, further we have been able to construct a more viable picture on the real status of things and present the final architecture of the projected narrative.
Second Issue: The second phase of our research consisted in making an authentication of the main sources for the story, naturally in the face of their preponderant authors. This also came to a false end, since we couldn't find any biographical references for the main "malariologists" in our booklist. Let us be more precise and see what has been written in the bio-bibliography for Dr. Konstantin Markov, Dr. Mircho Slivenski, etc.
— Dr. Konstantin Markov has been serving as chief expert at the Inspectorate for Malaria, Direction of Public Health in Bulgaria from the period 1919-1943 /i.e., this has been the last confirmed date, before the Inspectorate was abolished after WWII and its structures appended to the newly formed Ministry of Health/; further, from the pictures of the photo archive at the Inspectorate, which was published almost completely in the books from the titular above and we see a well-to-do personality in his middle fifties, always in the company of important men from different international subsidiary organizations, driving automobile vehicles, etc; all this, has made us think that Dr. K. Markov was someone from the elite of the bourgeois country from that time and not - as contrary professed by socialist historians - someone, who was connected with any kind of communist movement or allied; further, various suggestions of him being a relative to other persons with the same name are seemingly based on fabricated instances, while the main source on this confabulations - cf., "Markov, V. Bio-bibliographical Index /edited by K. Markov and V. Hadjivulchanov/. Sofia: Izdatelstvo BAN, 1960" - doesn't contain a word on the real Dr. K. Markov. Our conclusion from the whole supposition above is that the titular has perished sometime during the war and / or his whereabouts was unknown and unreported until death.
— Dr. Mircho Slivenski was chief executive for Bayer Pharmaceuticals in Bulgaria, until the expelling of german military forces from the country in early year 1944; further, it is highly improbable that he has remained in the country, rather than joining the retreating german army and which has been a practice at that time for Germany and its satellites; subsequently, have he stayed there and he would have been subjected to trial by the People's Court for his fascist activities, rather than being left at ease on jovial basis as he is described in the memoirs of a principal socialist historian /cf., "Hadjivulchanov, V. People and Meetings in my Life ~ a memoir. Sofia: Meridiani, 2002"/; finally, the archive of Bayer Pharmaceuticals AG and its main proponent journal "Therapeutic Monthly", which contains secret information for clinical trials with chemotherapy agents on malaria, etc. - viz., subsequently was destroyed and no mention was allowed for a period of 50 years or so. Our conclusion for the subject is that Dr. M. Slivenski has made a withdrawal with the german forces and thence on his exact place of residence is unknown and his date of dying is unreported.
Third Issue: Notably concerning the author of the book at hand Dr. Ludvik Striburni, who was a foreign national /i.e., probably of Czech origin/ and at regular service in the Bulgarian Army; further, he carried on the job of malaria control and prophylaxis in the lands occupied by the bulgarian forces during WWII and was instrumental to use the same methods and resources which has been deployed before him by the Rockefeller Foundation /USA/ and Bayer Pharma /Germany/; also, the legacy he has left for the bulgarians is considerable, although he is not mentioned as an authority in any major source of bulgarian military history with particular reference to medical activities. Our conclusion for Dr. L. Striburni is unequivocal and besides his written heritage on the above medical topic, notwithstanding nothing else is known about this author.
We preclude here our lead-in article on epidemiological and biological studies on malaria in Bulgarian lands. The story is there and awaits to be re-written and revised from the viewpoints of new research on the topic. Many new sources have appeared in the international literature, however the principal references for Bulgaria are here and enumerated as they are in our booklist.
Addendum: Meanwhile, an excellent narrative for a fragment of the whole story is contained in the archive of the League of Nations and written on behalf of Dr. Konstantin Markov.
Access to material online is from here,
1. K. Marcoff. Malaria in Bulgaria in 1922. Geneva: Health Organization of the League of Nations, 1924 - go to # 11
2. K. Marcoff. The organization of the campaign against malaria in Bulgaria in 1922. Geneva: Health Organization of the League of Nations, 1934 - go to # 3
3. N. H. Swellengrebel. Third Report on the situation of the Bulgarian refugees from the government of Bourgas in relation to malaria. Geneva: Health Organization of the League of Nations, 1928 - go to # 123
Copyright © 2006 by the author.