The "culture of survival" and international public health in Latin America: the Cold War and the eradication of diseases in the mid-twentieth century

This article analyzes the main campaigns run by international agencies and national health bodies to eradicate infectious diseases in rural Latin America in the 1940s and 1950s. The political dimensions of the period have been studied but there has been little attention as yet to the health dimensions. This article proposes the concept of a "culture of survival" to explain the official public health problems of states with limited social policies that did not allow the exercise of citizenship. Public health, as part of this culture of survival, sought a temporary solution without confronting the social problems that led to infections and left a public health legacy in the region.

international health; Cold War; Latin America; malaria; eradication


Casa de Oswaldo Cruz, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz Av. Brasil, 4365 - Prédio do Relógio, 21040-900 Rio de Janeiro RJ Brazil, Tel./Fax: (55 21) 3865-2208/2195/2196 - Rio de Janeiro - RJ - Brazil
E-mail: hscience@coc.fiocruz.br