Stamping Out Tropical Disease
Story by Salma Warshanna-Sparklin
Photographs courtesy of the Institute of the History of Medicine, The Johns Hopkins University
When Tony Golda was 8 or 9 years old, his father introduced him to stamp collecting. As an adult, he merged that passion with his early work in international health.
The result: 904 tropical disease related stamps from around the world. Roughly half are dedicated to malaria with the rest linked to 16 other tropical diseases, including exotics like Bartonellosis. They come from locales such as Iran, Swaziland, Yugoslavia and the Solomon Islands.
“Stamps can give good insight into the endemic nature of diseases that to this day contribute to shortened life expectancy,” says Golda, MPH ’73. “They tell the story of individuals and countries involved in the treatment and control of these diseases over the years.”
The full collection can be viewed in the Historical Collection of the Institute of the History of Medicine, located on the third floor of the Welch Library Building.
Tony's Fave Five
Country of Origin: U.S.A.
Stamp: “Bartlett, Josiah.” Josiah Bartlett signed the declaration of independence and was a physician in Philly. He introduced the use of “Peruvian bark,” or cinchona, for the treatment of “malignant angina”—now known as malaria—in the U.S. in the mid 1700’s.
TG: “It’s an interesting conjunction of events. It shows that even as early as the 1700’s, you have a physician who signed the declaration of independence, yet he used a substance that came from Peru by way of Europe to treat people.”
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Stamp: “Adult spraying, microscope, protozoa, stain.” Field workers spray insecticide, or another substance, on standing water. A light coat of oil is known to suffocate a juvenile mosquito in larval form.
TG: “It shows all the aspects of combatting malaria: research, treatment and control.”
Country of Origin: Solomon Islands
Stamp: “Malaria Eradication.” A microscope with the Solomon Island archipelago in the background.
TG: “I like the scientific aspect of things and this stamp shows the use of microscopy in identifying the pathogen in the blood that causes the disease in question.”
Country of Origin: Mexico
Stamp: "Anti-Malaria Campaign."
TG: “This was the first stamp ever specifically issued for an anti-malaria campaign.” It was also the very first public health stamp Tony Golda collected
Country of Origin: Jugoslavia
Stamp: “Non-Standard: Variant of Official Emblem.” This is a detailed rendering of what a mosquito looks like when taking a blood meal.
TG: “So many of the pictures of vectors are cartoonish, and don’t show enough anatomical detail. But this is about as detailed as these get and you learn an awful lot by just looking at this drawing. You wouldn’t want to meet this guy in an alley!”
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