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West Africa (Medical Service)

Volume 388: debated on Wednesday 31 March 1943

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in view of the discontent among Africans respecting the West African Medical Service, he is considering appropriate reforms; how many West African doctors have been appointed to the Colonial Medical Service operating in West Africa; how many West Africans hold responsible administrative medical posts in West Africa compared with Europeans; and whether the medical services in the West African Colonies are likely to be co-ordinated?

Measures are under constant consideration for increasing opportunities for the employment of Africans as medical officers in West Africa. West Africans have not been formally included in the unified Colonial Medical Service, but 84 African medical officers have already been appointed to the West African Government services. So far, most of the senior medical administrative posts are held by Europeans, but the Medical Officer of Health at Lagos and his assistant are Africans, and a West African holds a specialist post in Nigeria. Measures to facilitate the interchangeability of African medical personnel among the four Colonies are being considered.

While I thoroughly appreciate that some progress has been made, is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman not aware that considerable disquiet exists about the disparity of treatment between Europeans and Africans in the medical service? Could he not have a survey, with a view to co-ordinating the whole of the services?

I am doing all I can. I do not know whether the hon. Member has seen a letter that I addressed to the President of the League of Coloured Peoples. Perhaps I might send him a copy?

Has my right hon. and gallant Friend considered the advisability and the possibility of having a subordinate medical service, such as they have in India, where it has done most useful work?

That raises a bigger question. Perhaps my hon. Friend will put it on the Paper.