Doctors and the state
George Gale and South Africa's experiment in social medicine
in Science and society in southern Africa
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George Gale was 'a complex and contradictory figure caught up and influenced by the socio-political historical context of segregationist and later apartheid South Africa'. In fostering social medicine and a new form of medical education, Gale's thinking was undoubtedly in advance of that of the vast majority of his medical contemporaries in South Africa and abroad. As Dean of Durban Medical School Gale was insistent that students be taught anthropology and sociology. With his rural mission experience Gale had valuable insights to bring to the entire conceptualisation of the health centre scheme. Dominant whites in the state were simply not prepared to sustain the welfare costs involved in a National Health Service Commission (NHSC). Like most missionary doctors and indeed non-missionary practitioners, Gale was certainly impatient of what he saw as 'superstition' and the obstacle it posed to health.

Editor: Saul Dubow


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