Africa in the Time of Cholera: A History of Pandemics from 1817 to the Present

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Written in a style attractive to non-specialists, this book combines evidence from natural and social sciences to examine the impact on Africa of seven cholera pandemics since 1817, particularly the current impact of cholera on such major countries as Senegal, Angola, Mozambique, Congo, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Cholera's explosion in Africa involves such variables as migration, armed conflict, climate change, and changing disease ecology. Myron Echenberg highlights the irony that this once-terrible scourge, having receded from most of the globe, now kills thousands of Africans annually – Africa now accounts for more than 90 percent of the world's cases and deaths – and leaves many more with severe developmental impairment. Responsibility for the suffering of thousands of infants and children who survive the disease but are left with acute developmental impairment is shared by Western lending and health institutions and by often venal and incompetent African leadership. Cholera is no longer a bio-medical riddle. Inexpensive and effective oral rehydration therapy can now control the impact of cholera, while modest investment in potable water and sewage infrastructure helps prevent major outbreaks. If the threat of this old scourge is addressed with more urgency, great progress in the public health of Africans can be achieved.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Written by a leading historian of medicine, Africa in the Time of Cholera offers readers a timely, compelling, and deeply disturbing analysis of Africa’s history of cholera pandemics. Myron Echenberg skillfully shows that cholera has made crucial, tragic contributions to human history, and that past pandemics in Africa provide us with points of critical reflection for the present pandemic. This book is absolutely essential reading for those interested in global health, development, humanitarian interventions, and politics in Africa."
Tamara Giles-Vernick, Institut Pasteur

"Cholera was once the quintessential disease of modernity, revealing the contours of a new global economy under the Pax Britannica. Today, it a disease of famines and failed states. In Africa in the Time of Cholera, Myron Echenberg guides us expertly through this transition, shedding new light on nearly two-hundred years of conflict, colonialism, and environmental change. His book is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of Africa or the history of disease more generally."
Mark Harrision, Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine, University of Oxford

"Myron Echenberg’s book is path-breaking. It makes a seminal contribution to global public health and historical epidemiology, and it will become a standard reference for scholars and policy analysts who strive to understand the reasons for cholera outbreaks within Africa and across the globe. It is also in the vanguard of a new field of scholarship and teaching: the history of global public health."
James L. A. Webb, Jr, Colby College

"[An] informative history …"
Nicolas Van De Walle, Foreign Affairs

"Africa in the Time of Cholera should remain the standard treatment of this subject for years."
Christopher Cumo, Canadian Bulletin of Medical History

"Echenberg has nicely summarized the history of cholera for the well-known Africa Studies Series, organizing his work by combining the first six pandemics - 1817 to 1947 - for the initial half of this book and then considering the seventh pandemic - 1947 to the present - as the last half of the book."
Frederick Holmes, Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521188203
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2011
  • Series: African Studies Series, #114
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Myron Echenberg is former Chair of the History Department at McGill University, where he is now Professor Emeritus. He is a former editor of the Canadian Journal of African Studies and previously served as President of the Canadian Association of African Studies. Professor Echenberg is the author of Plague Ports: The Global Urban Impact of Bubonic Plague, 1894–1901; Black Death, White Medicine: Bubonic Plague and the Politics of Public Health in Colonial Senegal, 1914–1945; and Colonial Conscripts: The Tirailleurs Sénégalais in French West Africa, 1857–1960, which won the Herskovits Award of the African Studies Association for the outstanding original scholarly work published during 1991.
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Table of Contents

Part I. The First Six Cholera Pandemics, 1817–1947:
1. 'The fiend of pestilence' circles the globe
2. Medical responses
3. Cholera ravages Sub-Saharan Africa:
Senegambia, Ethiopia, and Zanzibar, 1821–1894
4. Cholera in North Africa and the Nile Valley:
Tunisia, 1835–1868, and Egypt, 1823–1947
Part II. The Seventh Cholera Pandemic Strikes Africa:
5. Medical changes
6. Seventh pandemic in Africa, 1971–2009
7. Risk factors:
environment and geography, armed conflicts and the dispersal of refugees
8. Risk factors:
public health policy choices among stable and weak states
9. Zimbabwe, portrait of cholera in a failed state
10. Cholera today.
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