Open Access (free)
The Colonial Medical Service in British Africa
Editor: Anna Greenwood

A collection of essays about the Colonial Medical Service of Africa in which a group of distinguished colonial historians illustrate the diversity and active collaborations to be found in the untidy reality of government medical provision. The authors present important case studies in a series of essays covering former British colonial dependencies in Africa, including Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zanzibar. These studies reveal many new insights into the enactments of colonial policy and the ways in which colonial doctors negotiated the day-to-day reality during the height of Imperial rule in Africa. The book provides essential reading for scholars and students of colonial history, medical history and colonial administration.

The Zanzibar Maternity Association (ZMA) was a charitable organisation established in 1918 to help Zanzibari women during parturition. Majority funding came from the Arab and Indian communities who, correspondingly, had considerable say in the organisation’s remit and agenda. Although the colonial British government had no alternative maternity service of their own on Zanzibar, this chapter shows how anxious the colonial government was about ZMA activities and influence during the 1930s and 1940s. Struggles over ZMA control are positioned as revealing of broader anxieties over the erosion of colonial hegemony and also as demonstrative of the highly flexible way the British constructed racialised discourses about health and hygiene. Ultimately, the British rejected cooperation when it was not precisely on the terms that they wanted.

in Beyond the state
Open Access (free)
Looking beyond the state

This chapter auto-critiques the editors early work (Crozier, Practising Colonial Medicine, 2007) for studying the Colonial Medical Service as a distinct entity, founded and run on shared principles, staffed by Europeans and micro-managed from Whitehall. The collection of chapters is introduced, particularly emphasising how each essay originally contributes to revising this flawed interpretation. The Colonial Medical Service is argued as being flexibly responsive to local demands, open to negotiation and cooperation with non-governmental partners, and very much different in reality to the unified image that is often assumed. Theoretically this dramatically pushes forward understandings of the history of government medicine in Africa, not least showing scholars that history is always on the move and can be rarely compartmentalised, despite the active public relations agenda of the British colonial government.

in Beyond the state
The short history of Indian doctors in the Colonial Medical Service, British East Africa

Histories of the Colonial Medical Service have considered the European Medical Officers forming their elites and also the subsidiary auxiliary staff who provided supporting healthcare provision. No research has, however, taken account of the Indian ‘middle-men’ who were also relied upon in many parts of the African Empire to provide healthcare to local communities. These men, despite being of lesser rank in the colonial hierarchy, were qualified in western medicine and undertook duties identical to their European superiors. The policy of recruiting Indians abruptly stopped however in 1923. This chapter discusses why this happened and argues that part of the reason for the definite, if surreptitious, policy to squeeze Indians out of government medical positions was that it did not fit in with the public image the British government wanted to portray from the 1920s onwards. As such, the authors show that the Colonial Medical Service was not always the white organisation that most histories have assumed.

in Beyond the state