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This presentation recounts the global health trajectory of a Soviet method of mosquito dissection.

Pioneered in the 1940s by Soviet entomologists, the ‘Detinova Technique’, as it would become known in the West, offered a highly precise way of determining the exact physiological age of the female Anopheles mosquito by counting the dilations in the ovariolar stalk left by each eggs, and by extension, its epidemiological relevance. Heralded as a game-changer for global malaria eradication efforts, the Detinova Technique prompted new collaborations between East and West, showcased by Tatjana Detinova’s WHO-sponsored tour of key laboratories in Africa.

Yet the degree of manual dexterity implied by the technique limited its diffusion and led eventually to its demise. But beyond the technical challenges presented, transforming the mosquito ovariole into a unit of public health action hinged upon a distinct conjugation of malaria surveillance and control—one characteristic of the Soviet campaign but obviated by the epidemiological models driving efforts in the West.

The aspirations and disappointments of operationalising the method helps to clarify the dynamic relationship between knowable and what is doable in disease control, and the broader geopolitical histories and horizons of global health. 

This lecture is part of the 'Age of Health' series in which experts from the Department of Global Health & Social Medicine at King's talk to activists and leaders about one of the defining issues of our age: health.

About the speakers

  • Professor Ann Kelly, Head of Department of Global Health & Social Medicine, King's College London
  • Dr Anastasia Fedotova, Senior Researcher, Institute for the History of Science and Technology, Russian Academy of Science St. Petersburg, Russia
  • Professor Christos Lynteris, Department of Anthropology, University of St Andrews 
  • Professor Jo Lines, Professor of Malaria Control and Vector Biology at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Chaired by Professor Bronwyn Parry, Professor of Global Health & Social Medicine, King's College London.

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At this event

Ann Kelly

Professor of Anthropology & Global Health

Professor Bronwyn Parry

Visiting Professor