In August-September 1899, he was sent to Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone where he organized a sanitation drive, clearing the streets of tyres, bottles and empty cans and leveling roads so that rain water would not gather into puddles. But the Freetown malaria control programme did not yield desired results, probably because Ross had underestimated the number of breeding pools as well as the sheer number of vectors that he was trying to control. Ross had very limited funding and the best available technology was to pour oil on the numerous breeding sites around Freetown. As soon as the oil treatment stopped, breeding would begin again. Ross redoubled his efforts with increased funding from private sources and ensured the removal of all potential breeding sites, including rubbish, broken bottles and other potential water containers. Despite these concerted efforts, the programme was remembered more for its impact on the Freetown’s rubbish than for malaria control. J.W.W. Stephens and S.R. Christopher’s, who had worked with Ronald Ross in Freetown, organized a similar drive in Mian Mir in Lahore, India in 1901, without much success either.
The sanitation drive suggested by Ronald Ross was successfully tried elsewhere. During the U.S. military occupation of Cuba, a campaign against yellow fever and malaria was commenced at Havana early in 1901. Under the leadership of the Assistant Surgeon General William Crawford Gorgas of the United States Army the anti-mosquito measures produced very marked results. Pyrethrum, a natural insecticide derived from the chrysanthemum flower, was first used by William Gorgas in Cuba where it was burned inside sealed dwellings. Mosquitoes entirely disappeared from many parts of the city, and were decreased everywhere.
- Bendiner E. Ronald Ross and the mystery of malaria. Hospital Practice. Oct 15, 1994:95-112
- Ross R. Researches on malaria. Nobel Lecture, December, 12, 1902. (From Nobel Lectures, Physiology or Medicine 1901-1921, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1967) Available at http://nobelprize.org/medicine/laureates/1902/ross-lecture.html
- Breslow NE. Are Statistical Contributions to Medicine Undervalued? Biometrics, Volume 59, Number 1, March 2003, pp. 1-8(8) Available at http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/bpl/biom/2003/00000059/00000001/art00001