This paper was published in The International Journal of Asia-Pacific Studies(IJAPS), an e-journal published by Universiti Sains Malaysia and Asia-Pacific Research Unit (APRU) of the School of Humanities, Universiti Sains Malaysia.
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Title of paper: PREVENTIVE MEDICINE AND "MISSION CIVILISATRICE"
Uses of the BCG Vaccine in French Colonial Vietnam between the Two World Wars
By Laurence Monnais
Université de Montréal
This paper is part of a broader analysis of French health policy in colonial Vietnam1 (1860–1945), and in particular of the campaigns organized in the region by the French administration against the most important epidemic and endemic diseases, during a key period in the history not only of the emergence of biomedicine and its principal preventive strategies, but also of state intervention into public health issues in Europe and in the West in general.
The fight against tuberculosis, one of the most deadly local endemic diseases, is a very revealing example of the contents, complexity and ambiguity of French health policy in Vietnam. Probing the decision to use the Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine in the 1920s will be particularly helpful for better understanding the function of public health in the
colonizing process and in the relationship between colonizer and colonized. The use of BCG in Vietnam, which was both early and extensive in comparison with its use in France as we will see, seems likely to provide us with important new ways of understanding the role of the colonial empire in driving scientific experimentation and "progress", in particular by revealing the colonial administration's autonomy from metropolitan imperialist directives which, when not absent, were often not responding to local needs.
This analysis is based on a variety of sources, including several modern histories of tuberculosis, archival data on health conditions in Vietnam (Centre des Archives d'Outre-mer, Archives Nationales du Viêt nam, Institut Pasteur de Paris) and of course the medical and popular press, including both colonial and locally published "Indochinese" journals and newspapers.
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The paper elaborates on:
HEALTH POLICY IN INDOCHINA: CONTENTS AND OBJECTIVES
- The Civilizing Mission: The Key Role of Education and Health
- The Reproduction of a Model: Health Policy in Vietnam Through World War I
- The Reorientation of Health Policy between the Two World Wars: Policy towards Society and Children
THE BCG VACCINE IN FRANCE
- An Overview of the Prevention of Tuberculosis in France
- Prehistory and Brief History of BCG in France
THE BCG VACCINE IN INDOCHINA
- Social Diseases and Tuberculosis Statistics
- A Special Handling of Tuberculosis
STEPS IN THE PROCESS OF THE USE OF BCG IN COLONIAL VIETNAM
- An Important Field for Scientific Experimentation or the Role
- Pastorianism Played in Vietnam
- Doctors, Scientists and Administrators: A Genuine Consensus?
BCG: A Well-Adapted Health Measure, if Not a Perfect One
Information about the Author
LAURENCE MONNAIS is assistant professor at Université de Montréal (Department of History – Center for East Asian Studies, CETASE). She is a specialist in the history of medicine, health and health practices in French Indochina and 19th–20th century Vietnam. She is the author of Médecine et colonisation. L’Aventure indochinoise, 1860–1939 (Paris, 1999) and several articles and book chapters published in French and English. She is currently working on two collective essays. One deals with the social life of medicines and the other is a general history of medicine in Southeast Asia.