Health, State and Society in Kenya: Faces of Contact and Change

This book examines the conflicts brought on by the introduction, management and institutionalization of Western biomedicine into Kenya. From the dawn of the colonial age, there were conflicts over the issues and meanings of sickness, health and therapy. Conversations often broke down, especially during the first two decades of the twentieth century, because of the natural and strong desire on the part of local populations, the state and biomedical practitioners to protect their respective hallowed traditions, approaches and identities. However, the persistence of epidemics, spiraling mortality rates, the interdependent nature of the colonial economy, and the establishment and recommendations of Commissions of Inquiry turned the tensions of race and conflict into dialogues about accommodation and compromise. The focus on a common good, rather than upon partisan satisfaction, became a dominant force. Western biomedicine and African traditional therapies each contributed to the growth and development of colonial health care in Kenya. George Ndege is Professor of History at St. Louis University.