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The Fred L. Soper Papers

[Excerpt from Fred Soper's diary] pdf (838,763 Bytes) transcript of pdf
[Excerpt from Fred Soper's diary]
Soper's June 13 entry describes his audience with Brazilian President Getulio Vargas, in which Soper tries to get more Brazilian funding for the anti-malaria effort, including funds for accurate mapping of the Jaguaribe river basin. Subsequent entries demonstrate how many other problems Soper was juggling, including the transfer of the Yellow Fever Service administration to Brazil.
Number of Image Pages:
6 (838,763 Bytes)
Date Supplied:
13-20 June 1939
Soper, Fred L.
This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Financial Support
Mosquito Control
Maps as Topic
Organization and Administration
Exhibit Category:
Fighting Yellow Fever and Malaria in Brazil, 1928-1942
Box Number:
Unique Identifier:
Document Type:
Physical Condition:
Series: Diaries, 1919-1975
Folder: Diary, June-July 1939
June 12th. Authorize the visit of Dr. Manoel Ferreira to Rio.
One June 6 the laboratory here diagnosed yellow fever in a case occurring at Capanema, Para. Capanema is on the main line, roughly between Belem and Braganza. A large number of people were vaccinated here a few months ago but neither this case nor anyone else in the family had taken advantage of the opportunity. This was, of course, a case of jungle yellow fever and the only one diagnosed in this region since the time of Dr. Bauer's visit with me two years ago.
Authorize the collection of 800 bloods for an immunity survey of north-western Rio Grande do Sul where cases of jungle yellow fever almost certainly occurred in January and February of this year.
Dr. Lacerda calls with the final authorization for the exportation of 5 cases of zoological material to New York. Also returns to me the famous cheesecutter which I place in the safe.
Mrs. Chagas calls to find out for EC when MAB is to return to the USA and when I intend to go to New York. I report MAB's departure date has not been set and that I expect to reach New York September 1. (Learn that Leoberto has resigned from EC's service which, with the loss of Leonidas and Gladstone, leaves him almost without first-class trained help. It seems Leoberto was in part responsible for Oliveira Castro leaving EC's service and had some part in Dr. Mangabeira's decision to leave. To add to the confusion it seems that Konder has taken Leoberto's side of the discussion and has called off plans for cooperation with the IPN in the study and control of malaria at Para).
June 13th. Letter from DBW reports that Barber and Antunes have finished their preliminary survey of the region between Aracaty and Fortaleza, finding gambiae along the Pirangy river from its mouth up stream some 25 kilometers. (A swarm of men with Paris Green are now in this region). Gambiae were not found north and west of this river! This is indeed good news since we already knew that the mouth of the Pirangy river was infected.
Audience with Dr. Getulio Vargas at the Catette Palace. Most of the available time was spent explaining the seriousness of the gambiae situation and the need for further expansion of the work beyond the limit provided by the present budget. I spoke of the need for spending at least 2,000 cantos more than is available and before leaving received instructions to proceed with necessary developments with the expectation of receiving a supplementary budget before the end of the year. The President inquired regarding the collaboration of the IFOCS in the taking of air maps and also inquired regarding the necessity of an additional budget of 2,000 contos for the IFOCS. I replied that what we need most urgently is a simple mosaic map and that we knew nothing of the 2,000 conto requirement until after the request had been officially presented to the government by the IFOCS alleging that the funds were needed in order to collaborate with us. I explained that the equipment to be provided by these funds is undoubtedly necessary to make the type of map the IFGCS wishes to make for itself but is not necessary for our work
Attempt to discuss the organization of the Yellow Fever Service under government auspices beginning next month, only to find the President has assumed that everything has already been arranged for a smooth transfer of the service to government auspices. I therefore drop the discussion and decide to go to work in the corridors of Catette. On my way out of the Palace arrange for one of the secretaries, Dr. Queiroz Lima, to advise the Ministry of Education that an early audience with the Minister is necessary. At the same time arrange for more direct action through the President's daughter, who promises to present to her father and discuss with him a summary I prepared in April of the conditions considered indispensable for the future organization of the Yellow Fever Service. These conditions are as follows:
Condicues Consideradas Indispensaveis Para Que O Servio De Febre Amarela Continue Com A Atual Eficiencia
1a. - Ficar subordinado diretmente ao Ministerio da Educacao e Saude ou mesmo, ao Gabinete do Presidente da Republica, pelas seguintes razoes:
a) O Servico de Febre Amarela abrange todo o territorio brasileiro e tem em consequencia, neceseidade de estabelecer no Pais, contacto direto com as autoridades federais, estaduais e municipais, bem como com a direcao de companhias, empresas e outras entidades particulares.
b) E de toda a conveniencia restringir as formalidades administrativas que, aceitaveis embora, em services menos extensos, impossibilitam a acao de carater verdadeiramente nacional, como e o de Febre Amarela.
2a. - Ter um comando unico e consequentemente, uma unica orientacao para todo o territorio brasileiro.
3a. - Considerar o Servico de Febre Amarela como se fosse um exercito em campanha, permitindo-lhe, no que respeita as suas necessidades Imediatas E INADIAVEIS, toda possivel liberdade administrativa.
4a. - Ter o Diretor Geral do Servico a sua disposicao, para livre movimentacao a qualquer momento, numerario suficiente de modo a possibilitar o pagamento do pessoal absolutamente em dia e a obtencao imediata de todo o material necessario sem qualquer embaraco para a respectiva aquisicao.
5a. - Ter possibilidade de admitir, dispensar e remover o pessoal (inclusive medico), de acordo com as necessidades tecnicas do Servico.
6a. - Possuir um pequeno nucleo de pessoal technico parmanente, sendo o restante do pessoal variavel de acordo com as contingencias do Servico.
7a. - Evitar que seus technicos especialmente medicos sejam desviados para quaisquer outras atividades.
8a. - Evitar tambem que a direcao do Servico seja entregue a administradores nao especiaiizados.
9a. - Continuar em vigor o decreto 21.434 de 23 de Maio de 1932.
10a. - Continuar em vigor as normas estabelecidas no "Manual de Administracao do Servico de Febre Amarela do Brasil", manual esse que representa a experiencia dos ultimos dez anos de campanha contra a febre amarela a que deve, como ate aqui se vem fazendo, receber modificacoes ditadas pela experiencia do Servico."
June 14th. Wire from DBW reports that gambiae has been found 10 kilometers above Iguato on the Jaguaribe river. This is bad news.
Call on Dr. Libanio and discuss method of organization of yellow fever service for next year. Dr. Libanio reports that Dr. Barros Barreto is in Minas Geraes and left instructions with him to work out the details of the Yellow Fever Service transfer with us.
June 15th. Telegram received from DBW reporting gambiae at Aquiraz and Eusebio, only 22 kilometers from Fortaleza. (These reports prove to be false after field investigation).
Wilson asks for 700 contos for June and more money during the coming months. Fortunately I am able to authorize additional funds on the basis of the President's promise of June 13.
Letter from Luis Vieira of the Obras contra as Seccas says that, due to the failure of the government to authorize the collaboration of the IFOCS with the Foundation in the mapping of the Jaguaribe Valley, the planes which he had promised to send to Ceara before the middle of June, are being sent to Pernambuco to map the Sao Francisco river valley. (What LV means to say is that the government has not yet authorized him to spend the 2,000 contos which he was asking for on the basis of our request for assistance in mapping the Jaguaribe Valley. He further implied that the Jaguaribe job can wait until the government decides to give him the additional money for equipment which is not needed for the actual work we require).
With Dr. Luis Vieira's letter in my pocket, I go with Dr. Servulo Lima to see Col. Eduardo Gomes, the head of the army service, to whom we first applied for assistance in mapping the Jaguaribe river and who was responsible for beginning our negotiations with the Obras contra as Seccas. Col. Gomes is quite surprised at LV's letter and immediately takes steps to get authorization to handle the work for us with the army air planes. Col. Gomes put
us in contact with Col. Ararigboia who promises to, and does, take the matter up with the Minister of War getting authorization to collaborate with us. Army officers speak plainly that the government should turn over to the army the two planes which were ordered for the Obras contra as Seccas since the army must in any case do the work. Fortunately the army has a Bellanca plane being mounted this week which can do the work we need. Also I am told there will be no difficulty getting a plane for Paris greening should it be necessary to use one in the Fortaleza area.
Long talk with Dr. Long regarding plague in Brazil. L reports that there is some episootis which kills rats in large numbers in north Brazil, which may be of value in plague control. He asked for Dr. Machiavelli of Chile to be sent here to study this disease.
Attend Mass at the Candelaria Church celebrating the escape of Drs. Antunes and Acquer from the Panair accident of May 8 at Santarem, Para.
Dr. Horing calls and discusses the possibility of Dr. Drescher visiting our laboratory. I point out that we have no facilities for teaching and that with Dr. Clarebout here and Dr. Bablet coming, we cannot extend the same facilities to Dr. Drescher as were previously extended to him. I agree, however, that arrangements be made with the anti-mosquito service for detailed visits.
Accounts of the formal inauguration of the Yellow Fever Laboratory, Bogota, received. Apparently the inauguration went off beautifully with President Santos present and great interest being shown in the yellow fever work. Copy received of Dr. Smith's remarks, which were very pleasing in their dignity and reserve.
SL reports a conversation with Dr. Libanio in which the latter stated that he had been charged with the responsibility of working out details for the transfer of the Yellow Fever Service since he is "on good terms with those people".
June 16th. The First Quarter's Report for Colombia gives positive protection test results for children of 10, 11 and 12 years of age from Rio Sucio and Turbo, both on the lower River Atrato, not far from the frontier with Panama.
WAS advises of Hahn assignment to Brazil.
Visit to Minister of Education. Discuss in detail the gambiae situation insisting that it is not yet satisfactory and that much more work is needed and that additional funds will be required. Explain to the Minister what has been done regarding air mapping, giving details of LV's letter and our negotiations with the army. On the basis of this information, the Minister telephones to the Palace asking that the President be informed that the Minister of Education no longer request the budget of 2,000 contos which Dr. Luiz Vieira had asked for the Obras contra as Seccas on the basis of collaborating with us. Begin discussion of the transfer of the Yellow Fever Service to the government which is interrupted by a visit of Interventor Muller from Matto Grosso. The 20th is marked as the date of further discussion which suits me much better since the Minister will have an opportunity to discuss the matter with the President on the 19.
June 17th. Visit of Eugene Meyer III who comes with a letter of introduction from Dr. Ernst of the Pan American Sanitary Bureau. It seems that Meyer, who belongs to a very important family of publishers in Washington, is a third year medical student making a trip around South America. Show him through the laboratory and make arrangements for him to visit the Yellow Fever Service on the 19th.
Long discussion of the local situation with Dr. Long of the Pan American Sanitary Bureau.
The army captain, who is to be in charge of the mapping of the Jaguaribe valley, calls and states he expects to be able to proceed north within a week or ten days at the latest.
Dr. Manoel Ferreira calls to give me the latest news regarding the Malaria Service. He says that the presence of gambiae has not been established beyond all doubt in the region close to Fortaleza. Oliveira Castro went to Aquiras after learning that 4 mosquitoes, diagnosed as gambiae, had been brought into the post at Cristaes by a man who said he had caught them in his house at Eusebio close to Aquiraz. OC found one adult and several larvae at Aquiraz which he thought to be gambiae and so reported but which proved on closer examination to be Nysorrhynchus. This leaves then only the 4 adults brought into Cristaes to be explained. How did it happen that a man living outside the zone of operations and hence not familiar with capture methods, brought in mosquitoes for identification and brought them so far? (The only logical explanation I think of it is that these mosquitoes were found not in his house but in his car which had been disinfected at our station in Cristaes. The finding of dead mosquitoes in the car after flitting has been reported by various car owners and this may be a similar case in which the mosquitoes were collected and left at the disinfection post when the car returned up country. (In any case a large number of trained men are now in the region checking on the presence or absence of gambiae and the worst should be known soon}.
Wilson advises hiring the two Dean brothers and Dr. Baumgarten. MF gives more of the details of the trouble between EC and his men and how Konder got mixed up in the discussion.
MF reports that the situation of the service of EC is more or less that which was reported by Dr. Leoberto with the additional opinion that Konder made an attempt to bring order out of chaos by getting EC and all of his personnel together for a full discussion of all points of difference. EC took advantage of the gathering to confront Leoberto with some of the others and dismiss him publicly without any attempt of a conciliation of interests. Konder felt that EC's action was not justified and has cut off all relations with EC. As a result of the dismissal of Leoberto, the two Dean brothers and Dr. Baumgarten resigned from EC's service and applied for work with our service in Ceara. (So my attempt to get EG to transmit my offer to Leonidas Dean failed, until after the Deans were already out of EC's service). MF reports that G. Freitas is settling down to a busy and useful life in Aracaty and that he has been able to convince MAB that dried bloods can be examined satisfactorily at least up to one month after taking.
MF also reports DBW needs Antunes on the administrative end of the work.
At the request of WSA I inquire of the Panair people what they are going to do in relation to the loss of baggage suffered by Drs. WSA and Acquer in the plane accident at Santarem on the 8th of May. Panair advises that the settlement is being made by the Insurance Company.
Dr. Dirceu Eulalio's journal of April 22 carries a note regarding the three cases of jungle yellow fever at Independencia in the State of Rio Grande do Sul, which were recognized by the people of the region as a result of the "Peste doa Bugios" (the plague of the howler monkeys). These three cases had all died in March. At the time of Dr. Eulalio's visit very low temperatures down to freezing were occurring every night.
June 18th. Sunday
June 19th. Day at the office.
June 20th. SL says that he has been told that the contract for the transfer of the Federal District to the Municipality has been signed and that Dr. Libanio has so advised JBB who has been seen in the interior (Pocos das Caldas). Since JBB was definitely opposed to the transfer of these services, the signing of this contract during his absence may well result in his withdrawal from the Health Department.
Talk with the Minister of Education. Hear him tell Dr. Briggs that he will not be willing to take over the responsibility of the S.F.A. unless our suggestions can be observed. The Minister says that it has been suggested that the Government ask the Rockefeller Foundation to continue with the Yellow Fever Services, a solution of the case which he would welcome but he realizes that this would not be a reasonable request to make since the RF is now carrying on the service beyond the period agreed upon by special request made last year. The Minister fully realizes that yellow fever have improved and I believe will insist on having a service free of bureaucratic donation by the DASP. The Minister's idea now is to organize a yellow fever service directly dependent on the Ministry and is to see Dr. Simoes Lopes on the 22nd to word out final details.
The Minister asks if it will be possible for us to continue with the responsibility of the Service some days after the first of July until the Government has its plan ready. I assure him that we wish to help in every way possible to get the Government service off on the right foot.
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