These new ideas and techniques increased people’s faith that diseases could be mastered and human lives extended, if only the new knowledge were applied.
The Germans and French focused on developing drug treatments, some of which were arsenic-based and near-deadly in effective dosages [6, 8], while the British often chose to cordon off affected groups, using coercive tactics and forcing large numbers of people to leave their villages .
Both methods—drug treatment and forced removal—ultimately stemmed the Lake Victoria epidemic, although questions about its causes lingered as did the endemic foci of the disease [6, 8].
What do we learn about ethics and international health systems when we look to the past?
This essay considers this question by examining the history of colonialism in sub-Saharan Africa, focusing on the harms of conquest and on the treatment and research campaigns sponsored by nascent medical services.
Indeed, historical analysis of the unintended—and the willful—harms produced during the colonial period bring to light various lessons for the present since these patterns linger and continue to affect people’s perceptions and practices.
Politicians from several European countries oversaw the conquest of sub-Saharan Africa at the end of the nineteenth century, dividing the bulk of the continent between the governments of Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, Portugal, and Spain.
Colonial efforts to create export economies had similar adverse effects on Africans’ health .
Whether people were enlisted in mining, infrastructure, or agricultural projects, they often had few occupational protections and succumbed to illnesses that resulted from their labors.
The flies’ habitats had been transformed in the previous decades, bringing tsetses into closer proximity to humans and distancing them from some of the animals, especially cattle, on which they normally fed.
Thus, in at least some regions, people became a convenient meal for the flies, increasing transmission rates and spreading the epidemic to new areas .