“Hygiene, Agriculture, and Men”: Rural Health in 1930s and 40s Colombia


How to Cite

Jalil, H. (2023). “Hygiene, Agriculture, and Men”: Rural Health in 1930s and 40s Colombia. EIAL - Estudios Interdisciplinarios De América Latina Y El Caribe, 34(2), 44–70. https://doi.org/10.61490/eial.v34i2.1816


In 1934, Alfonso López Pumarejo, the recently elected president of Colombia, announced that expanding government programs in public health and education would be a priority for his administration. This article analyzes this period’s cultural transformation programs, examining the establishment and operation of sanitary units, mixed healthcare centers, and itinerant rural health commissions in the 1930s and the 1940s. It proposes a two-part argument. First, it demonstrates how reformers, intellectuals, and doctors associated with Latin America’s first wave of social medicine transformed existing institutional spaces to serve the aims of the government’s new public health model, designing and implementing programs to extend healthcare into the countryside. They proposed shifting from campaigns focused on eradicating a single disease to campaigns that tackled multiple diseases and also advocated for an increase in national, departmental, and municipal fiscal contributions to public health programs. Second, it touches upon the fiscal and resource-related challenges that limited these programs’ reach. These challenges illustrate the fractured and fragmented nature of the Colombian state and its lack of capacity to effectively integrate the countryside by reaching often neglected remote rural areas.


Copyright © 2012-2013 Estudios Interdisciplinarios de América Latina y el Caribe.
ISSN 0792-7061
Editores:  Ori Preuss; Nahuel Ribke
Instituto Sverdlin de Historia y Cultura de América Latina, Escuela de Historia
Universidad de Tel Aviv, Ramat Aviv,
P.O.B. 39040 (69978), Israel.
Correo electrónico:  eial@tauex.tau.ac.il
Fax: 972-3-6406931


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