A Menace to Our Health: A History of Epidemic Diseases in South Africa

A Menace to Our Health: A History of Epidemic Diseases in South Africa

by Julie Dyer


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Epidemics have caused terror across the world throughout history. This book describes how South Africa has faced the challenges of 12 infectious diseases over the centuries, covering Leprosy, Syphilis, Smallpox, Plague, Typhoid, Typhus, Influenza, Cholera, Malaria, Measles, Polio and Diphtheria between the 17th and 20th centuries.

Most of these diseases were brought by visitors, colonialists and migrants from outside South Africa, to an indigenous African population that was, by all accounts, previously remarkably healthy. The diseases then spread across the country, aided by the movements of European migrants and their socio-economic policies, in particular the forced migrant labour system in use on the gold, diamond and platinum mines. Urbanization increased the spread of many of these epidemics, which were then responded to by the Colonialist, Unionist and Apartheid-era governments in varying ways. The impact of these diseases is described, along with the causes, control measures and consequences, which often differed according to race.

The medical, political, socio-economic and psychological impact on the population is considered, along with the racially-discriminatory interventions taken by the European administrations. These included their laying the foundations for the policies of separate living spaces and segregation leading up to Apartheid.

This book analyses the 12 diseases in the context of South Africa's history, and draws conclusions about their impact on its development and the indigenous population.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781503096585
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 01/20/2015
Pages: 296
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.62(d)

About the Author

Julie Dyer was born in England and educated at the Friary School, Lichfield. She studied Medicine at Leeds University and Tropical Medicine and Hygiene at Liverpool University. After working in Sierra Leone she then came to South Africa where she specialized in Community Health (Public Health) at the University of Natal in Durban. She was the Medical Officer of Health for both the Development and Services Board and the City of Pietermaritzburg between 1992 and 2005 where she was involved in the transformation of health services after the end of apartheid. She has an interest in the social history of medicine and South Africa, and her first book, 'Health in Pietermaritzburg 1838-2008:a history of urbanization and disease in an African city', was published by the Natal Society Foundation in 2012.

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