London medical school profited from colonial exploitation, report says | London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) supported and directly benefited from the exploitation and subjugation of colonized countries by the British Empire, according to a report on its history.

The study explains how the school, founded in 1899, for decades received most of its funding from British colonies, particularly those in Africa, and colonial enterprises, but its medical research only benefited to whites.

The school’s original mission was to reduce the costs to British taxpayers of replacing colonial officers who contracted, sometimes fatally, diseases such as malaria, rather than to improve the health of colonized indigenous people, the report explains. .

In doing so, the school, which was originally established and run in close collaboration with the government’s Colonial Office, strengthened British imperialism, said the report’s author, Dr Lioba Hirsch, of the Center for public health history of the LSHTM.

His study, commissioned by LSHTM, details how the development of “tropical medicine” in school has been shaped by white supremacy and racist pseudosciences such as eugenics, with senior staff publicly claiming that black and brown colonized people were physically and mentally inferior.

As the main training center for white doctors who later worked in the British colonies, the report notes how the school helped spread such racist notions.

He also found that the school had curtailed the careers of the few doctors of color who had studied there during its early decades.

While many white students became LSHTM staff, no students of color were recruited until the late 1940s and 1950s.

For white students, studying at the school also became a route to service in the West African medical staff, which from 1902 openly banned doctors of non-European origin.

Students of color were also separated in their clinical training. Records show senior white executives expressed concern about the treatment of white patients in the 1920s.

The report notes that Joseph Chamberlain, the Colonial Secretary, encouraged colonial physicians to send pathological samples, materials and parasites to the school for teaching and research purposes, often without consent. of the patient.

In addition, two London hospitals supplied “native patients” from India, China, Japan and Goa for teaching purposes after a formal request from the school in 1940.

Hirsch also examined the harmful legacy of the school’s founder, Patrick Manson, who 22 years before its inception deliberately infected a Chinese man, named Hin-Lo, with malaria. Few details of Hin-Lo’s life can be found in the LSHTM archives, with different sources describing him as Manson’s servant, gardener, or patient.

“The school, to my knowledge, has done nothing to acknowledge him or any of the other research subjects that have been involved in the school’s building of its own reputation, fame and fundraising “, said Hirsch.

The researcher said she hopes the school will recognize the harmful legacy of its racist history for current staff and students of color, as noted in an independent review last year that found evidence of structural racism in the establishment.

“I would like recognition that the racist structures that helped build the school and made it the intellectual powerhouse it is today are still at work,” she said, “ and that the inequalities they generate are also still at work”. even if they are much less visible.

Professor Liam Smeeth, Director of LSHTM, said: “This report shows the reality of LSHTM’s colonial past, and I apologize to anyone negatively affected.

Professor Anne Mills, Deputy Director and Provost of LSHTM, added: “We are committed to LSHTM being a place of anti-racism education, employment, research and partnerships.”