Introduction: Incorporating Medical Research into the History of Medicine in East Africa *

By Graboyes, Melissa | The International Journal of African Historical Studies, September 1, 2014 | Go to article overview

Introduction: Incorporating Medical Research into the History of Medicine in East Africa *


Graboyes, Melissa, The International Journal of African Historical Studies


There is a deep history of medical research in East Africa, which is intertwined with the larger and longer history of medical interventions in the region. Since Europeans arrived in East Africa in the mid-1800s, Africans have been exposed to Western medicine and biomedical research practices. The continent has long served as a source of scientific knowledge-what Helen Tilley has referred to as a 'living laboratory" and "natural laboratory" echoing the sentiments of colonial-era researchers in fields as diverse as ecology, forestry, and tropical medicine.1 The impression of Africa as source of data, fertile testing ground, and birthplace of discoveries is rooted in the historical record. Over the years, discoveries have been made in the East African region with global repercussions, such as those pertaining to Kaposi's sarcoma and the nature of drug resistance with antiretroviral drugs.2 Many of these findings were dependent on human experimentation and this history of medical research has been an unexamined-yet important-part of the history of medicine in the region.

East Africans were the human material necessary for research projects focused on malaria, trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), leprosy, onchoceriasis (river blindness), schistosomiasis (bilharzia), and lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis)-just to name a few of the tropical diseases that captured colonial imaginations. Human experimentation covered a wide range of activities, but most frequently it meant providing blood, urine, stool or skin samples, or being examined, measured, poked, and probed. Sometimes research practices on Africans were as invasive as lumbar punctures, and other times as seemingly innocuous as having one's home sprayed with insecticide. While in some cases Africans were clearly subjected to medical research, there were also many cases when Africans were active agents-choosing to abscond from projects that didn't fulfill their needs, shutting down projects that didn't align with their interests, or modifying them in ways that better accommodated their own expectations of fair benefit, acceptable risk, norms of the body, disease, or healer-patient relationships. For more than a century, Africans have been functioning in systems of both medical and ethical pluralism-a world where biomedical interventions and indigenous practices rub against each other, often creating friction and sparks, disagreement and conflict.

There are clear connections between the history of medicine and the history of medical research. Some of the Germans' earliest medical interventions in Tanganyika were in response to sleeping sickness epidemics. Those interventions were a combination of widespread screening for the disease (which involved physical palpation of the glands and lumbar punctures), treating the infected with the best available drugs, and outright drug experimentation in the hopes of discovering a more effective therapy. The British and Belgian response was not substantially different in that they all blended medical interventions with medical research and public health with human experimentation. When considering the international responses, there is no separating medical intervention from medical research, no clear or well-defined distinction between public health intervention and human experimentation. These things were so entwined that the history of medical research is the history of medicine, and to talk about the history of medicine without accounting for human experimentation is to give a partial and biased accounting.

The formal arguments in this introduction are simple. First, large numbers of East Africans participated in many different types of medical research over the past century, and this alone deserves our attention. Second, the history of medical research is a missing-and vital-element of the larger history of medicine in the region. Because medical research frequently blurred treatment and research, these encounters often created misunderstanding and skepticism. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Introduction: Incorporating Medical Research into the History of Medicine in East Africa *
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.