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Western Medicine and the Non-Western People


The western people used various strategies to control the human population. After engaging in wars, they decided to change the approach of using non-invasive methods of controlling the human population. The main aim of controlling the population was to avoid overpopulation and ensure sustainability in the planet. The resources available in the world are not enough to sustain the lives of human beings. Western people want to curb the emergence of humanitarian crises that are even experienced today. They also had administrative interests as they believed that a small population is easier to control than a larger one. One of the strategies that they used to control the population was its medicine. This approach was implemented mainly in Asia and South America. This article describes how western medicine was used to control the human population in Cuba and India (Sokat et al., 2020).

Between the years 1890-1930, the British medical personnel, together with the native medical professionals in India, started a mission of improving the health of women and girls in India. This was perceived as a good mission, but the objectives differed for the British women residing in India and the native women in the region. The advice that was given to the British ladies living in India was meant to help them live a happy and healthy life in the tropical surrounding. However, Indian women were advised on sexual and physical abuse (Prasad 2013). During that time, the culture of Indians allowed the girl child to be married at a younger age of 3. The medical practitioners’ main focus was on sensitizing the community on the dangers of early pregnancies, domestic and sexual abuse, consummation, and birth.

India is a tropical region characterized by high temperatures and regular rainfalls. There were no proper drainage systems in the country, and during the rainy seasons, the female anopheles mosquitoes increased. This is the main agent that causes malaria. During these times, the British women were taught how to prevent themselves and their kids from contracting malaria. They were educated on how to conduct various sanitary activities, keeping their environment clean to eradicate the anopheles mosquitoes’ harbors, which thrives in high temperatures and wet environments. On the other hand, the Indian women were not educated on this; instead, the medics focused on sexual and physical abuse and its effects. This compromised the lives of many pregnant women in the region and young children (Prasad 2013).

Since the British women were new to the tropical environment, the heat affected them. Therefore, the health professionals also focused on educating them how the Indian heat affected their health regarding their menstrual cycle. The high temperatures tampered with their reproductive health as it caused irregular menstrual cycles and ovarian diseases. As the effects of the Indian weather escalated towards the British, they had to shift their residence to the northern hills in India. The environment there was cool and conducive for them (Prasad 2013).

The manuals designed by the Medical professionals were costly to the British women. The Indian women were used as models that helped formulate proper health strategies that can improve the living of British families (Prasad 2013). The manuals were not addressing the Indians but the British. The primary health area of concern during this time was public health. British women and families knew how to keep their environment clean, have clean water, and prevent mosquitoes; thus, they lived well. On the other hand, the Indian communities knew less about personal health practices, and this compromised the lives of many Indians. Pathogens like Influenza and plague also contributed significantly to the loss of lives of Indians between the years 1871 and 1921 (Arnold, 1993).

Cuba is an island that was colonized by Spain. By the second half of the second century, Spain had lost many countries that it had colonized and left with few. Among the countries states that were still under the rule of The Spaniards included Cuba. Cuban had accepted the Spain Empire and collaborated with it well; thus, its economy had boosted significantly. This is also following its close relationship with Haiti, which was then among the leading suppliers of sugar in the world (Espinosa, 2009). However, in 1868 Cuba wanted to have a different relationship with its colony, and since Spain was not ready, there erupted a war. Ten years later, Spain agreed to have some Cubans participate in higher positions in the government, and there was peace in the country. However, some other Cubans wanted complete independence, which led to the beginning of another fierce war in 1895. The war continued until 1898 when the United States intervened, and the Spaniards lost the empire to the Westerns (Espinosa 2009).

During this period of war, there was an epidemic of yellow fever. The United States used this as a weapon to control the population of the soldiers from Spain and the residents of Spain. Yellow fever is a disease characterized by serif fever, elevated body temperatures, headaches, severe muscle pain, and weakness of the joints. These are symptoms of the disease during the primary stage. When the disease advances, it tampers with the malfunctioning of the liver, thus causing its impairment. When the liver is impaired, it brings about the skin’s yellow coloration, which is prudent mainly in the eyes. The disease can complicate further, causing liver failure and internal bleeding that eventually consumes a person’s life. Yellow fever is also caused by mosquitoes (Nieves and April 2021).

The Spain army was stationed in town centers across the country. When the epidemic started, they were among the highly affected population because of the housebound mosquitoes found in the cities. Unhealthy living practices and the ignorance of the armies to demonstrate healthy living standards were the main factors that compromised their lives. These unhealthy sanitary practices promoted the lives of the mosquitoes, plus the tropical environment also was favorable for their thriving. The Spain health sector was not well established and did not know about yellow fever. When their soldiers were affected by the disease, they diagnosed and managed it as a normal tropical fever. This led to the loss of lives of many Spain soldiers, thus making it easier for the U.S army to win the war (Espinosa, 2009).

The Cuban insurgents knew about the disease as they had developed natural immunity against the disease since their childhood. After seeing how the Spain soldiers succumbed to death due to the epidemic, they decided to segregate themselves and avoided contact with them. The U.S army had some knowledge of how to prevent themselves from the disease because they had experienced the disease from the epidemic incidences in the Gulf Coast of Mexico and Mississippi (Espinosa, 2009). They were not highly affected by the epidemic like the Spaniards.

The U.S learned about the Yellow fever epidemic because it affected it during the Mexican-American War. They were aware that the epidemic mostly affects cities because they are highly populated. Since the disease is infectious, it is easy to claim the lives of many people living together. Therefore, they decided to station their soldiers in the rural areas of Cuba and left the Spain soldiers in the cities. More than 2000 Spaniard soldiers lost their lives due to this pandemic, thus weakening their power and control in Cuba. They could no longer fight the rebellion. On the other hand, the United States thrived and was able to control the colony without difficulty (Nieves and April 2021).


In most cases, the Western uses intelligent strategies that are non-invasive to control territories across the world. This is evident from how the British controlled the population of India using its public health approach, which was unidirectional. The U.S also used its experience to ensure excellent public health practices that helped them stay safe during the yellow fever epidemic in Cuba. The fight for power and control over others is still an issue in the modern world. Therefore, countries should establish sturdy public health strategies that will help them save the lives of their citizens. The coronavirus pandemic is a good example that could have affected many countries if there could be a struggle for control and power like in previous history.

Works Cited

Prasad, Nita Verma. ” British Bodies, Native Bodies: Imperial Medicine and the Treatment of Women in India, 1890-1930.” Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History 14.3 (2013).

Espinosa, Mariola. “The Invincible Generals: Disease and the Fight for Empire in Cuba, 1868 to 1898.” Biomedicine as a contested site: some revelations in imperial contexts. University of Iowa, 2009. 67-78.

Arnold, David. Colonizing the body: State medicine and epidemic disease in nineteenth-century India. Univ of California Press, 1993.

Nieves, J. Edwin, and April Adams Pace. “Casualties of the Spanish Army in Cuba During the “Long War” of 1868-1878.” Military medicine (2021).

Sokat, Kezban Yagci, and Benjamin Armbruster. “Modeling and Controlling Epidemic Outbreaks: The Role of Population Size, Model Heterogeneity and Fast Response in the Case of Measles.” Mathematics 8.11 (2020): 1-18.


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