In 1962 the world’s postal services (not the UK’s Royal Mail though!) supported the United Nations ‘World United Against Malaria‘ campaign — a concerted effort to focus attention and funds onto a disease killing half a million people a year in some of the world’s poorest countries. Stamp producers came back with a wealth of eye-catching designs.
Italy’s showed lauded malaria researcher Giovanni Battista Grassi, who along with Britain’s Ronald Ross isolated the blood parasite from mosquitoes. The Cuban three showed the Plasmodium parasites under the microscope, the mosquito vector and chemical quinine. Kenya’s, rather disturbingly, showed a malaria victim looking very ill, with a horrid halo of the malaria infection cycle around his head. Mali’s were the brightest, showing a series of informative tableaux for the benefit of the malaria-stricken letter-senders of the country. On a lighter note, the Vanuatu series depicted a horse-rider (fund-raising charity races), an aeroplane (‘on a mercy mission’), a bright new ambulance, and a ‘mosquito-eradicated’ sign. Hidden among the stamp designs is the occasional error of printing so highly valued by collectors. On the green 100f from Republique de Guinée a few were printed with the black mosquito upside down.
I finally came across one on eBay. More than the 50p the original ‘correct’ printing cost me, but still only a few pounds.
The legs-up death pose makes a silent, optimistic and very moving statement.