Sickness and Health in Africa

Intermediate—Fall

Depending on the level of his or her resources, a sick person in Africa potentially has access to a variety of options for treatment. How illness is perceived becomes a crucial determinant in how people seek care. Despite the array of treatment options, the state of public health in most African countries has become woefully inadequate. While the reasons for this decline in health status are related to questions of the international political economy, they can also be traced historically. This class studies the history of health, healing, and medical practices in Africa in order to identify the social, historic, and economic factors that influence how therapeutic systems in Africa have changed over time. We will investigate a range of topics, including the place of traditional healers in providing care, the impact of the AIDS pandemic on overall public health, and the role of globalization in changing the structure of health-care delivery in most African countries.