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''An All White Institution': defending private practice and the formation of the West African medical staff '

Johnson, R. (2010) ''An All White Institution': defending private practice and the formation of the West African medical staff '. Medical History, 54 (2). pp. 237-254. ISSN 0025-7273

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Abstract

Introduction: At the turn of the twentieth century, many politicians and businessmen with interests in West Africa considered that, "The systematic application, by highly trained and specially qualified officers, of the principles of modern tropical medicine and hygiene to West Africa … must result in great improvement in the healthiness of these regions, with consequent increase in their material prosperity and economic development."1 The efficient recruitment of physicians 'specially qualified' in the principles of 'modern tropical medicine and hygiene' proved, however, to be a difficult task. To address this problem, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Joseph Chamberlain, organized a committee in 1901 to draw up plans for amalgamating the six medical departments of British West Africa. Their primary goal was to devise incentives to attract a greater number of physicians for service in the infamous 'white man's grave'. As a result, the West African Medical Staff (WAMS) was created and officially announced with the publication of the 1902 pamphlet, Information for the use of candidates for appointments in West African Medical Staff.2