Title

Migrant Clinics and Hookworm Science: Peripheral Origins of International Health, 1840–1920

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2009

Publication Title

Bulletin of the History of Medicine

Volume

83

Issue

4

First Page

676

Last Page

709

DOI

10.1353/bhm.0.0292

Abstract

This article proposes a global history of hookworm disease based on the main scientific publications on hookworm disease (ankylostomiasis) in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and archival sources from the Rockefeller Foundation's International Health Board. The location of hookworm research is explained by the presence of large concentrations of migrant laborers who suffered from serious hookworm disease in frontier regions during the second industrial revolution. This hookworm disease pandemic was not the result of a linear spread of infection. The extraordinary labor conditions in these regions created ideal ecologies for the reproduction of the parasite, leading to levels of infection that produced ankylostomiasis. The major findings in hookworm science came from research-oriented physicians building new institutions of medical science in peripheral nation-states. In a number of Latin American states their work led to treatment programs conceived in national terms that preceded the interest of Rockefeller philanthropy in the disease. The Rockefeller Foundation incorporated these programs in order to launch its International Health hookworm eradication program in 1914.

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