Tropical Disease Campaigns in Panama: The Entanglement of American Colonial Medicine and Medical Humanitarianism

Jan 01, 2008 | by
  • Description

From August 22 to September 2, 2005 I conducted research at the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC), closely reviewing materials related to the International Health Commission/Board's (IHC/B) activities in the republic of Panama and the Canal Zone as well as the activities of the Yellow Fever Commission (YFC) in Latin America during the period from 1913 to 1921. My goal was to reconstruct the IHC/B's hookworm campaigns in Panama, with particular emphasis on Panama's role as a testing ground for hookworm interventions elsewhere in Latin America; to understand how the IHC/B health officers interacted with the U.S. health infrastructure and personnel that had been put in place as part of the construction effort; and to determine the connections between the yellow fever campaigns carried out between 1904 and 1 1914 and the campaigns of the YFC, founded by the Rockefeller Foundation (RF) in 1915, both of which were directed by the army physician Colonel William C. Gorgas. As is often the case when studying the history of international health, I was also interested in mapping the network of actors involved in these hookworm and yellow fever campaigns.