'Fight TB with BCG': mass vaccination campaigns in the British Caribbean, 1951-6

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Based on a wide range of primary materials, including WHO-reports and Colonial Office correspondence, this article examines the UNICEF/WHO-funded mass BCG campaigns that were carried out in seven Caribbean colonies between 1951 and 1956. It describes the various factors that gave rise to the campaigns, compares them to other non-European BCG campaigns, and discusses them within a context of decolonisation. In doing so, it not only adds to the scholarship on TB in non-European contexts, which had tended to focus on Africa and Asia but also the recently new field of Caribbean medical history and the rapidly expanding body of work on international health, which has paid scant attention to the Anglophone Caribbean and the pre-independence period. The article illustrates that the process of decolonisation aided but also hindered the BCG campaigns in the Caribbean and argues that because the campaigns in this region did not differ considerably from those in other non-European countries, their relative success in terms of high coverage rate was largely due to factors internal to the region, including its previous experience with international health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-497
Number of pages23
JournalMedical History
Issue number4
Early online date9 Sept 2014
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014

Bibliographical note

© The Author 2014. Published by Cambridge University Press 2014. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


  • caribbean
  • TB
  • public health
  • decolonisation
  • RACE

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