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Medicine and Public Health in Latin America
A History


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Part of New Approaches to the Americas

  • Date Published: March 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107633018

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About the Authors
  • Despite several studies on the social, cultural, and political histories of medicine and of public health in different parts of Latin America and the Caribbean, local and national focuses still predominate, and there are few panoramic studies that analyze the overarching tendencies in the development of health in the region. This comprehensive book summarizes the social history of medicine, medical education, and public health in Latin America and places it in dialogue with the international historiographical currents in medicine and health. Ultimately, this text provides a clear, broad, and provocative synthesis of the history of Latin American medical developments while illuminating the recent challenges of global health in the region and other developing countries.

    • Clear, broad synthesis of the history of Latin American medicine
    • Insight into the present challenges of global health in developing countries
    • Organised description and analysis of the main institutional medical developments in Latin America
    Read more


    • Winner, 2017 George Rosen Prize, The American Association for the History of Medicine

    Reviews & endorsements

    'This remarkable book is the first study to weave together a detailed and sophisticated understanding of the historical transformations of medical education, public health, and medicine in Latin America from the sixteenth to the twenty-first centuries. With a strong narrative, remarkable insights and a thorough examination of some of the most recent findings, research questions, and methodologies, Cueto and Palmer provide a lucid and novel historical reassessment of indigenous medicines, medical pluralism, national and international health agendas, disease eradication, rural health, medical innovations, and global health. Their proposal of two novel concepts, 'culture of survival' and 'health in adversity', will most definitively enable rich and useful reexaminations of the histories and realities of the flexible, dynamic, contradictory, fragmented and discontinuous public health initiatives, policies and discourses of the region. Inspiring and informative, this book will find an audience in both professional historians and the general public alike.' Claudia Agostoni, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

    'Spanning more than five centuries, from the era of pre-colonial medicine to contemporary issues of global health, Medicine and Public Health in Latin America provides a comprehensive, well-balanced, and illuminating account of a critical dimension of Latin American history.' Alexandra Stern, University of Michigan

    'While previous studies have focused more narrowly on different aspects of this history, this is the first major study to examine the interconnections and cross-cutting patterns that have developed regionally, and to highlight the unique contributions that Latin America has made to the broader field of global health. Focusing on distinctive approaches that have emerged in the region, and that the authors analyze through notions such the 'culture of survival' and 'health in adversity', the book illuminates the distinctive social, cultural, and political dimensions of health in Latin America. Medicine and Public Health in Latin America offers a sweeping, magisterial overview of the long and complicated history of public health and medicine across the Latin American region.' Richard Parker, Director, Center for the Study of Culture, Politics, and Health, Columbia University

    'Cueto and Palmer have written an authoritative and wide-ranging book centering Latin America as a region of both innovation and early adoption when it comes to international health initiatives. Taking us from pre-Hispanic times to the twenty-first century, [they] show that the region's medical pluralisms and distinctive place in global history made it an ideal place to confront health challenges, test medical theories, and create solutions. While indicating the trials of providing health in a region that is ethnically, economically, and geographically diverse, [this book] also highlights the myriad contributions and medical discoveries that emerged in the area. [It] is impressive for its breadth but also for its in-depth analysis - a hard combination to pull off yet it is masterfully done here. This exciting book is a must-read for anyone, from any discipline, who has an interest in Latin America and global health models.' Gabriela Soto Laveaga, author of Jungle Laboratories

    'In their new coauthored work, Medicine and Public Health in Latin America, historians Marcos Cueto and Steven Palmer build on the flourishing scholarship on Latin American and Caribbean public health and medicine by offering a comprehensive synthesis extending from the pre-Columbian era to contemporary challenges with AIDS, cholera, and neoliberal responses to health care. Fundamentally, Cueto and Palmer underscore the role Latin American and Caribbean public health officials, scientists, and health institutions played in forging modern nation-states and constructing a citizenry.' Heather L. McCrea, Isis

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2015
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107633018
    • length: 318 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 153 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.43kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Indigenous medicine, official health, and medical pluralism
    2. National medicines and sanitarian states
    3. Making national and international health
    4. Medical innovation in the twentieth century
    5. Primary health care, neoliberal response, and global health in Latin America
    6. Conclusion.

  • Authors

    Marcos Cueto, Fundação 'Oswaldo Cruz', Rio de Janeiro
    Marcos Cueto is a professor at Casa de Oswaldo Cruz, Fiocruz, in Rio de Janeiro; co-editor of the journal História, Ciências, Saúde-Manguinho; and a researcher at Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, Lima, where he served as director-general from 2009 to 2011.

    Steven Palmer, University of Windsor, Ontario
    Steven Palmer is Associate Professor of History and Canada Research Chair in History of International Health at the University of Windsor, Ontario.


    • Winner, 2017 George Rosen Prize, The American Association for the History of Medicine
    • Winner of the 2016 Best Book Award from the History of Science, Medicine and Technology section of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA)

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