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Video - Is colonialism responsible for medical mistrust in Africa?


During colonial rule, some African communities were forced to receive medical treatments that were painful, debilitating and sometimes fatal. The experience has affected trust in modern medicine, as Sara Lowes explains.

This video is part of our schools series 'Why isn’t the whole world developed?', which draws on economic history to understand the effect of colonisation and imperial interventions. The project is delivered by Discover Economics and the CAGE Research Centre.

Who is the resource aimed at?

Suitable for Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5 students (14 to 18 year olds)

How can the resource be used?

This video can be used as a standalone resource, or with the teaching materials below to form a full lesson.

How does the resource link to the curriculum?

Whilst the topic of vaccine campaigns in Africa during late nineteenth and early twentieth century does not feature heavily within the History curriculum, this video can be used to talk about the impact of colonisation. 

Across the Key Stage 3 curriculum, students should have encountered examples of ways in which Africa was connected via trade, religion and warfare with Europe and Asia in the centuries prior to the Scramble for Africa. 

This video gives some context how scientific developments in vaccines and medical treatments enabled Europeans to transition from traders to colonisers in Africa in the nineteenth century. It gives also gives insight into how vaccines were used by the Europeans in Africa and the reasons why this would continue to lead to medical trust up to the modern day.

How long will the activity take?

Depending on how many of the resources you use, you can make this activity take up more or less time. Take a look at the suggested learning activities below.


Teacher's notes

Teacher's notes - video 4
Download PDF • 188KB

Associated resources

Short paper - Is colonialism responsible for medical mistrust in Africa
Download PDF • 101KB

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