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Divining without SeedsThe Case for Strengthening Laboratory Medicine in Africa$
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Iruka N. Okeke

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449413

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449413.001.0001

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Origins and Outlook of Diagnostic Insufficiency in Africa

Origins and Outlook of Diagnostic Insufficiency in Africa

(p.125) 8 Origins and Outlook of Diagnostic Insufficiency in Africa
Divining without Seeds

Iruka N. Okeke

Cornell University Press

This chapter locates the origins of diagnostic insufficiency in colonial and mid-twentieth-century medicine. It argues that although colonial medicine laid the foundation for diagnostic insufficiency, Africans allowed colonial medical practice to become the template for future health systems, despite knowing that it was not in their best interests. It highlights the need for Africa to take a fresh look at science today and chart a new path that suits her needs. Many recent biomedical advances are well suited for diagnostic development and should be exploited to optimize health care delivery. For instance, scientists at the University of Cambridge are developing multiplex dipsticks that permit a number of different pathogens or pathogen subtypes to be detected: one test will be used to screen blood for HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C viruses simultaneously. This approach is invaluable for screening blood for transfusion, particularly in developing countries where unscreened blood, essential for patients with severe malaria, is a major route for transmitting blood-borne HIV and hepatitis.

Keywords:   infectious disease, health systems, health care, public health, Africa, diagnostic tests, diagnosis

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