There are several recent papers examining the way that the US gradually suppressed and then eliminated malaria from the southern states which were sub-tropical, and also from the northern states in which summer-time malaria had always been a problem.
According to government publications from the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1946 right after the Second World War, they had suppressed malaria in the Tennessee River Valley by careful construction and operation of the 19 new reservoirs they built on the Tennessee River after 1930, along with improved drainage works, larviciding, improved housing with screens, and improved health services, These techniques had been derived from earlier state programs dealing with malaria around small impoundments. They were then expanded under the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a public works program for fighting the Great Depression of the 1930's by employing people for drainage and other public works, and then again during the Second World War under what is now the Centers for Disease Control of the US Public Health Service. As soon as DDT and chloroquine were introduced after the war, the disease quickly disappeared.
However a paper by Humphreys from 1998 in Parassitologia v40 indicated that instead it was the social changes - such as migration out of the impoverished lowlands of the South, and improved economic developments - which caused the decline in malaria and which were more important than the attacks on mosquitoes. Also Kitchens reported that there was in fact a temporary increase in malaria around the TVA reservoirs (in Journal of Economic History 2013).
Then a few years ago, Sledge and Mohler reversed this explanation, saying that in Alabama these social and economic changes were not the reason for disappearance of malaria. They concluded that the public health interventions, especially drainage works, caused the decrease in malaria, and this led to the observed improved economic development (Sledge and Mohler 2012 -Eliminating malaria in the American South - doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2012.301065
Most recently Kitchens again weighed in with a study of the state of Georgia in which he concluded that the decline in malaria was chronologically linked to the drainage works of the WPA, which caused a large decline in malaria, just before the introduction of DDT and chloroquine which then eliminated the disease (in Explorations in Economic History 2013).
Obviously there is room for more exploration of this history. Such exploration would help us a great deal as we try to find a way out of the malaria morass in Africa. There are at least two controversies in the American story which are relevant to Africa: does suppression of malaria result in improved economic development or is it the reverse, and should drainage and water management be a part of the attack or should we depend solely on biocides, drugs and bednets?
We are fortunate that historians, sociologists and economists are also examining malaria suppression. They add a great deal to the opinions of us malariologists who might be too close to our problem. I thank them,.