Introduced by

The Naval and Overseas Health Association (ASNOM)



The victory over the plague is accomplished in three stages by researchers of the Colonial Health Service :

Yersin isolates the microbe, Simond identifies the vector, Girard and Robic invent the first effective vaccine.

This disease, always fatal, ravages intertropical Africa.

In 1916, Jamot establishes a remarkably efficacious method of prophylaxis that the Colonial Health Service practises during half a century. In 1968, this disease could only be found in isolated places.



The Colonial Health Service has to deal with this disease in all the colonies, especially in Black Africa, where it mainly proliferates. Marchoux, from 1923, pleads for more humane conduct in leper-houses.

With a research institute devoted to this disease, the Colonial Health Service establishes campaigns for the free and controlled distribution of efficacious medicines. Its role in the elimination of Leprosy as a public health problem is considerable. The surgeons, in their turn, invent a method of leprosy surgery, a direct intervention in the leprous nerve, which proves to be palliative in cases of serious impotence.

The Colonial health Service has played an eminent role in the discovery of serums and vaccines still used today.

The Overseas Pasteur Institutes became the great centres of research and production of vaccines to use as preventive treatments against Smallpox, Rabies, Yellow Fever, Tuberculosis (the BCG), etc.



In all the continents and during nearly a century, the Colonial Health Service trained native medical assistants at higher and higher levels.

Medical teams thus formed had essential roles in improving health before and after national independence.

The needs of native populations and medical progress necessitate the creation of hospitals, dispensaries, maternity centres, etc.

In the course of a few decades, a real health network is established. Every important town is equipped with a big hospital. Some of these establishments acquire international reputations.



From 1890 to 1968, the improvement in living and health standards in territories that form the French colonial domain is remarkable: the regression or disappearance of the great endemics, a demographic boost and progress registered globally in every aspect of health.

In the second half of the twentieth century, ideas change as traditional cultures are taken into consideration in behaviour patterns.

Collomb, in Dakar, is one of the founders of ethnopsychiatry which takes into account traditional cultures in the expression and treatment of psychiatric troubles.

With intelligence and modesty, he gets into contact with the African healers and formulates a doctrine which he puts into application in his therapeutic methods and in his conception of psychiatric assistance.

All these results were obtained in spite of the paucity of the means available. In all, some thousands of physicians, some hundreds of chemists and subaltern officers who are nurses, tens of administrative officials … Budgets allocated parsimoniously !

Criticisms have been made and are made even today, so easy it is to imagine one could have done better. Much greater and more realistic is the homage rendered by the authorities of the countries that benefited from the results of the work of foreign experts. In 1960, the tasks are taken over by the independent states without any major difficulty.

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Page publiée le 10/01/2023.