The role and conditions of service of african medical auxilliaries in Catholic mission health institutions in Zambia: A case study of Chilonga mission hospital in Mpika district, 1905-1973
Kumwenda, Godfrey Kabaya
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Many studies on missionary medicine ignore the functions that African medical auxiliaries performed in colonial mission hospitals and clinics. These studies do not also examine the conditions of service under which auxiliaries lived and worked. This is because studies on missionary medicine in Africa focus on the activities and achievements of European doctors and nurses. Such studies push African medical employees to the lowest level of missionary hospital hierarchies and exhort Western doctors. Therefore, there is little knowledge about the role auxiliaries play in mission hospital and about their social and economic life. This study attempts to contribute to the existing literature on studies on missionary medicine by examining the role and conditions of service of African auxiliaries who were employed at Chilonga Mission Hospital in Mpika district in present-day Muchinga Province of Zambia from 1905 to 1973. The study shows that although the mission health centre employed only illiterate and untrained African auxiliaries who mostly performed menial jobs between the early 1900s and the late 1950s, it was these men and women who shaped the context in which missionary medicine was practiced. They maintained hygiene and security at the health institution, and they were also indispensable to maintaining the welfare of African patients. These auxiliaries also acted as interpreters and cultural brokers between European missionaries and African patients. They, therefore, shaped the ways in which medical missionaries and African patients communicated with each other. Missionaries in Mpika District were conscious of the fact that the success of medical evangelization and the growth of mission medicine in the area depended on training Africans in scientific medicine. They, therefore, began to train medical auxiliaries in the late 1950s. This study examines what kind of training Africans received at mission hospital and what functions trained auxiliaries played at the hospital. The study demonstrates that trained African auxiliaries performed more complex functions than their untrained counterparts. The study concludes that although medical auxiliaries were instrumental to the running of Chilonga Mission Hospital and in the provision of missionary medicine, their remuneration, housing and other conditions of service were generally poor. This was a source of tension between them and their missionary employers.
University of Zambia
Thesis(MA)-University of Zambia,2015