n Historia - Africa in the Time of Cholera: A History of Pandemics from 1817 to the Present, Myron Echenberg : book review

Volume 57, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0018-229X



This book by one of the pioneering medical historians of Africa, Myron Echenberg (emeritus professor of history at McGill University in Montreal) provides a good example of how adding a historical perspective can help explain a current problem. The current problem he focuses on is why surges of cholera have become one of the top five killers per decade in sub-Saharan Africa, even though the disease is easy to prevent (using chlorine bleach) and to cure (by oral rehydration therapy). Notwithstanding such counter-measures, four years ago the disease ravaged Zimbabwe, while eight years earlier it rampaged through KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape. In fact, since 1995 more than 95 percent of the world's cholera deaths have been in Africa. But it was not ever thus.

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