Ganta Dispensary Patients

A Statistical Study of 6291 Consecutive Out-Patients in Northeastern Liberia

G. W. Harley
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This contribution is a clinical study of over 6000 consecutive out-patients in the interior of Liberia near the French West African boundary. It is hoped that the briefness of the records will be compensated for by their number. No attempt has been made to present vital statistics of the community as a whole; no birth-rate or death-rate figures are included.

The group includes those who came to the new mission dispensary for complaints their own native doctors could not cure. It is shown that the natives have considerable appreciation of disease entities, and diagnose many conditions correctly. There were no obstetrical and few surgical cases. The acute infectious diseases of childhood are not represented. The selection of the group was also affected by the fee of one shilling and the length of the journey to the dispensary. The group is, therefore, not representative of the community as a whole.

Inexpensive methods have been worked out so that the dispensary is largely self-supporting, only lepers being carried as charity patients.

There are 14 tables and 2 figures showing the sex and age distribution of both complaints and diagnoses. The more important diseases are discussed. More than 60 per cent complained of rheumatic pain, or sores, or both. Some evidence of the yaws-syphilis group of diseases was present in 89 per cent of all patients. Other diseases of importance were ancylostomiasis, schistosomiasis, hernia, leprosy, and gonorrhea. The last was concentrated in the America-Liberian group and those who had come in contact with white civilization. Amebiasis showed a similar concentration.

The sexes are equally represented in the group as a whole, but certain diseases show a preponderance of one sex up to a ratio of 5 to 1. Patients with abdominal pain showed 91 per cent infested with uncinaria, and 30 per cent with Schistosoma mansoni. Malignant tumors were rare. The series includes 53 civilized Negroes from the coast, most of them government officials.

In addition to the series there were 38 complaints among white residents or visitors, during the five years 1926–30.

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