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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: August 2019

2 - Medicines in Colonial (Public) Health


The interplay between, on the one hand, apparent official and professional indifference toward medicines and, on the other hand, signs of popular therapeutic enthusiasm, is one of the central threads running throughout this book. This chapter provides a general overview of the place (not) given to medicines in colonial health policies, budgets, and discourse, and of the challenges facing their supply to and distribution in the public system. Of this information, I ask: how, and to what extent, did colonial and health authorities consider medicines as tools suited to the twin projects of medicalization and civilization? And how did this shape the geographical and economic accessibility of colonial medicines per se – that is, the medicines supplied and distributed by the colonial government? There were different types of public colonial medicines.