Epidemic Disease in Ghana 1901–1960

by David Scott, O.B.E., M.A., M.D. (Cantab.), D.P.H. (London), D.T.M. and H. (Liverpool), formerly Specialist Epidemiologist, Ministry of Health, Ghana, and in charge of Medical Field Units. xviii + 208 pages, illustrated. Oxford University Press, London, New York, Toronto. 1965. 35/- net

Thomas E. FrothinghamHarvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts

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This short book concisely chronicles the bare facts, in so far as they are known, regarding seven epidemic diseases which were observed in Ghana during the first half of this century. Plague, yellow fever, smallpox, meningococcal meningitis, relapsing fever, trypanosomiasis, and influenza are considered. The author, formerly epidemiologist to the Ministry of Health in Ghana, is careful to point out the limitations of his sources; these are chiefly annual governmental reports which in turn selectively summarize reports made by the hardy members of an understaffed and sparsely distributed colonial medical service. Only a sample of the total epidemic disease picture is presented. Measles, for example, is omitted for lack of factual information, but is thought to have caused a greater loss than that sustained, “… from all the other epidemic infections together.”

In this austere work, the remarkable morbidity and mortality figures tell their own tale.