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Imperial administrations in the South Pacific shared limited medical resources in the island territories over the inter-war period. British operated institutions such as the Central Medical School, the Colonial War Memorial Hospital and the Makogai Leper Colony in Fiji functioned as medical centres providing European medical treatments and “scientific bio-medical” education for islanders to pursue careers in the Colonial Medical Service. For more effective and coherent control of medical resources, the West Pacific High Commission suggested unification of medical services throughout the region. However, it was only during the Second World War that a unification plan could materialise. As a consequence of wartime policies and joint operations by the Allied forces, the South Pacific Health Service was established in 1946. It was ratified by Britain, New Zealand and Fiji, aiming to advise and inspect on all health-related matters in their territories including the control of all medical centres and personnel. Australia and the US, pursuing independent medical systems for native health, declined the invitation to participate. The discourse of building such a unified regional health service brings insights to continuously pervasive social-Darwinian ideas and constructive imperialist attitudes. By examining the cooperative medical ventures throughout pre-war colonial medicine to post-war international health, imperial aspirations in latecolonial and post-colonial South Pacific will be teased out.
Hohee Cho is a DPhil student in History at University of Oxford. She received her B.A. and M.A. degrees from Korea University and is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University. Her doctoral research explores British and Commonwealth interests in establishing cooperative institutions for health care in the colonial South Pacific. Her research interests concern the global history of empire, colonial medicine, and the Second World War especially in the Asia-Pacific Front.
This event is jointly hosted by The School of Culture, History & Language in the College of Asia & The Pacific and the School of History in the College of Arts & Social Sciences.