Volume 32, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


When one considers that it was well into the 20th century before the Census Bureau accepted the vital records of some American states, it is readily understandable why little has been written on early health developments in the African countries. Inadequate as the health returns for Ghana have been—and still are—they are far better than for most Third World countries. Patterson has done a first rate job of reconstructing health conditions in Ghana and of showing the impact of the major socio-economic changes during the first half of the 20th century. The country was beset by virtually all the medical problems of the tropics, plus measles, whooping cough, tuberculosis, and a host of other disorders. The author traces the effect of each of these diseases on the population and describes efforts by the health authorities to cure and prevent them.

More importantly, he attempts to answer the question as to which factor, medical knowledge or better living conditions, has been most significant in the gradually improving health of many of the world's people.


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