African posters

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By | From the Collections


The Wellcome Library has acquired a substantial number of posters (circa 1,100) published in thirty African countries to promote health and wellbeing. Dating from 1993 to 2010, they were collected in the latter year from the following countries:

Burkina Faso; Benin; Cameroon; Congo (from 1997); Djibouti; Egypt; Ethiopia; Gambia; Ghana; Guinea Bissau; Ivory Coast; Kenya; Liberia; Madagascar; Malawi; Mali; Mauritius; Morocco; Mozambique; Nigeria; Rwanda; Senegal; South Africa; Sudan; Tanzania; Tunisia; Uganda; Zaire (up to 1997); Zambia; Zimbabwe.

The best represented countries are Ethiopia (286), Kenya (219), Nigeria (130) and Tanzania (120). Some of the subjects represented:

Contraception and reproductive health, sexually transmitted diseases, “backyard abortion”, tubal ligation, breast feeding, weighing babies (as a concept), child health centres, vitamins.

Vaccination as a concept; African traditional medicine; pills as a concept.

Protection against communicable diseases including: polio, malaria, AIDS, schistosomiasis, food poisoning, nematode infections (right), tuberculosis, bird flu, and rodent-borne diseases; and against toxic pesticides and diarrhoea.


Smoking, spitting, female genital mutilation, empty hospital pharmacies due to overdemand, traditional tattooing, general health education, avoiding environmental pollution, men’s and women’s roles in preserving health, the health of orphans, the health of camels, appeals to Islamic and Christian values and images, individual responsibility, child abuse, and activism.

Cataloguing of the collection with brief, first-draft catalogue records has just started, and newly catalogued items are listed on the Wellcome Library’s rolling web feed.

Individual items will become available in the Library as they are catalogued, but in the meantime anyone wants to see works from a particular country may see them in the Wellcome Library by ordering them from the online catalogue.

Author: William Schupbach

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