Religion, medical aid and international health: colonial and post-colonial development, and smallpox control and eradication in Ghana, 1950-1980

Year of award: 2015


  • Benjamin Walker    

    University of York

Project summary

There is a need to develop a more complex understanding of state structures and state-sponsored medicine in the historiography of health and medicine in Africa, especially in relation to medical missionaries. There have been general overviews of missionaries after decolonisation yet very little on medical missionaries in newly independent African states such as Ghana. 

I will explore non-state actors and their links with international organisations and post-war UN agencies. I will look at the role of faith-based organisations in developmental activity, an area often misconstrued as secular. This will be combined with assessment of how newly decolonised states extended their power through healthcare. Using a detailed study of small pox control and eradication, I will examine the links and overlapping interests of religious missions, medical provision, and international health in Ghana. I will build on recent work on the place of small pox eradication in the growth and articulation of global community in US, Soviet and European foreign policy, 1950-1980.