The blessings of medicine? Patient characteristics and health outcomes in a Ugandan mission hospital, 1908–1970

Doyle, Shane, Meier zu Selhausen, Felix and Weisdorf, Jacob (2019) The blessings of medicine? Patient characteristics and health outcomes in a Ugandan mission hospital, 1908–1970. Social History of Medicine. ISSN 0951-631X

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Abstract

This article sheds new light on the impact and experience of western biomedicine in colonial Africa. We use patient registers from Western Uganda’s earliest mission hospital to explore whether and how Christian conversion and mission education affected African health behaviour. A data set of 18,600 admissions permits analysis of patients’ age, sex, residence, religion, diagnoses, duration of hospitalisation and treatment outcomes. We document Toro Hospital’s substantial geographic reach, trace evolving treatment practices and highlight significant variation in hospital-based disease incidence between the early colonial and early postcolonial periods. We observe no relationship between numeracy and health outcomes, nor religion-specific effects concerning hygiene-related infections. Christian conversion was associated with superior cure rates and shorter length of stay and with lower incidence of skin diseases and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). However, our findings indicate that STI incidence was linked to morality campaigns and that clinicians’ diagnoses were influenced by assumptions around religious groups’ sexual behaviour.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > Economics
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion. Mythology. Rationalism > BL0001 Religion (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion. Mythology. Rationalism > BL0630 Religious organization
D History General and Old World > DT History of Africa
D History General and Old World > DT History of Africa > DT0365 Eastern Africa > DT0433.2 Uganda
H Social Sciences > HB Economic theory. Demography > HB0848 Demography. Population. Vital events
R Medicine > R Medicine (General) > R131 History of medicine
R Medicine > R Medicine (General) > R722 Missionary medicine. Medical missionaries
Depositing User: Felix Meier Zu Selhausen
Date Deposited: 12 Apr 2019 11:52
Last Modified: 01 Jul 2019 16:30
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/83162

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Project NameSussex Project NumberFunderFunder Ref
Exploring the roots & long-term consequences of Christian missionary activity on African developmentG1897BRITISH ACADEMYpf160051