Empire and Health

Before the advent of modern medicine, West Africa had been considered the ‘white man’s grave’. As European colonisation and expansion into Africa gathered apace, improved health care and the eradication of disease assumed ever-increasing importance. From malaria to bilharzia, the plague to smallpox, these films highlight the methods adopted throughout the 20th century, not only within Africa but across the British Empire. With many of these films produced for local audiences, and showing advances in maternity care and sanitation, they also illustrate the increasing prominence afforded to health as part of Britain’s colonial welfare policy.

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AMENU'S CHILD (1950) enhanced entry

'"How better ways of feeding children came to an African village".

A Story told in the traditional idiom of an African ...


ANTI-PLAGUE OPERATIONS, LAGOS 1937 (1937)has video enhanced entry

A record of measures taken against an outbreak of plague in Lagos, followed by footage of welfare exhibitions in Lagos ...



In the jungle around the town of Tamandu, Burma, a field hospital has been set up to look ...

Prentice Collection: The Survey & Control of River Blindness (Onchocerciasis) in Uganda 1959

Prentice Collection: The Survey & Control of River... (1959)has video enhanced entry

European team tackle eradication of the fly which causes Onchoceriasis ('River Blindness'). Habitat of the fly and larvae. Exploration of ...


SMALLPOX (1950) enhanced entry

Dramatised propaganda film, in which a villager refuses to be vaccinated by the visiting sanitary inspector and contracts smallpox.

'Alabi, a ...


STILL WATERS: THE MENACE OF BILHARZIA (1948)has video enhanced entry

A doctor tells a personal story about an encounter with the disease bilharzia and shows how it can be prevented.

A ...


TROPICAL HOOKWORM (1936)has video enhanced entry

Instructional film for African audiences on the causes and prevention of hookworm disease.

An African man, 'a typical case of chronic ...