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Health and Society in Africa - Research Guide

This guide identifies resources useful for beginning and conducting research on social aspects of health among African societies. It identifies major reference works in print and electronic formats and provides guidance for beginning the research process.

Print and microform materials on African health issues may be found at several Penn libraries. Van Pelt Library, the Penn Library's main library and home to our social sciences (including demography, sociology, history, and social, economic, and policy aspects of public health) and general science collection, will probably be your starting point. The Biomedical Library holds materials on health sciences and medicine and shares responsibility with Van Pelt Library for public health. The Museum Library provides excellent coverage of anthropology and ethnography, and almost all of the Penn Library's African studies holdings are shared between the Museum Library and Van Pelt Library. The Lippincott Library's health management holdings may also be useful.


1. Getting started

Before beginning your subject research, it's a good idea to scan general surveys, factbooks, and historical dictionaries about your country. Build a synonym list -- alternative country names (including foreign-language versions and obsolete colonial entities), place names, names of political parties and social formations -- to make your searching as effective as possible.

Country surveys

Consult these surveys for a quick-and-dirty look at what's been going on in your country.

Country studies: Area handbook series (Library of Congress).
Provides one-volume overviews of "historical setting, and the social, economic, political, and national security systems and institutions of countries throughout the world." Alas, the series has ceased updates: deeper background information will remain useful but these volumes may lack currency. Earlier editions, listed in Franklin, may also be useful for highlighting changes in "current" history. Browsing tip! The Franklin call number for your country's volume usually corresponds to the general call number for books about your country's history.
Location: Library of Congress Web
Franklin keyword search for Country studies volumes: "area handbook"
Africa south of the Sahara. London: Europa, 1971-present. Annual.
Chapters on individual countries survey recent political and economic developments, also providing overviews on government organization.
Location: Van Pelt Library: DT1 .A219, latest year at Van Pelt Reference Desk.
Almanac of African peoples and nations / Mohamad Z. Yakan. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 1999.
Brief articles describing individual African languages and ethnic groups.
Location: Van Pelt Reference: DT15 .Y35 1999
WHO Regional office for Africa (WHO Web).
Provides current core health indicators and other basic information on health, health care, and health policy for individual countries.
Location: WHO Headquarters Web
Human development reports. United Nations Development Programme. 1990-present, irregular.
Very useful regional and national reports on current state of people's capability to lead long and healthy lives, to be knowledgeable and to have a decent standard of living. Presents analyses and statistical information on health, education, public administration, pollution, employment, and many other topics.
Location: UNDP Web

Dictionaries and encyclopedias

Consult these to flesh out passing references to individuals, places, and organizations. Searching tip! Use these to build a synonym list -- alternative country names (including foreign-language versions and obsolete colonial entities), place names, names of political parties and social formations -- to make your searching as effective as possible.

Search Franklin for dictionaries about your country using this keyword syntax:

([country name] or [country name synonym]) and (dictionaries or encyclop?)

African historical dictionaries. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow.
Each volume focuses on one country. Although specialists have criticized titles in this series, succeeding editions have improved.
Location: Van Pelt Library: various locations, most recent editions in Van Pelt Reference
Franklin keyword search for titles in the African historical dictionaries series: "african historical dictionaries".
New encyclopedia of Africa / John Middleton, editor in chief; Joseph C. Miller, ed. 5 vols. Detroit: Thomson/Gale, 2008.
An outstanding reference work, the principal general encyclopedia for African studies. In addition to entries on specific countries or ethnic groups, see the article on "Healing and Health Care" / Shula Marks.
Location: Penn Library Web
Location: Van Pelt Reference: DT2 .N48 2008

Other useful dictionaries and handbooks are:

Resources on health and diseases in Africa. University of Pennsylvania African Studies Center.
A handy website providing information and web links for specific diseases, and links to Africa-related health news sources, organizations, national health ministeries for African countries, hospitals, and web sites on Penn in Africa. Funded by Merck.
Location: ROHDA web site
International encyclopedia of public health. 6 vols. Oxford: Academic Press, 2008.
Very recent work, with lengthy articles on specific diseases or health problems, health processes, health systems, and other aspects. Attempts to be "international", with examples drawn from many different countries. A good place to start looking for comparative information on national health systems.
Location: Penn Library Web
Location: Van Pelt Reference: RA423 .I59 2008
Encyclopedia of global health. 4 vols. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2008.
Similar to IEPH, with articles on health status in each country, and more general articles.
Location: Van Pelt Reference: RA441 .E53 2008
Cambridge world history of food. 2 vols. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
See especially volume 2, which includes an article on "Africa south from the Sahara", and extensive sections on "History, nutrition, and health" and "Contemporary food-related policy issues". Especially useful for its bibliographic content.
Location: Penn Library Web
Location: Van Pelt Reference: TX353 .C255 2000
Oxford history of the British empire. Volume V: Historiography / Robin W. Winks, ed. Oxford University Press, 1999.
Bibliographic essays on topics relevant to British colonies. Includes chapters on individual colonial regions. Also, "16. Science, medicine, and the British empire" / Richard Drayton. 264-276, and "17. Disease, diet, and gender: late twentieth-century perspectives on empire" / Diana Wylie. 277-289.
Location: Penn Library Web
Encyclopedia of medical anthropology: health and illness in the world's cultures / Carol R. Ember and Melvin Ember, eds. 2 vols. New York : Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, c2004.
A very useful ethnographic reference work, sponsored by the Human Relations Area Files.
Location: Van Pelt Reference: RA418 .E354 2004
Encyclopedia of women & Islamic cultures. 6 vols. (In progress: 5 vols. to date.) Leiden: Brill, 2006- .
An online reference work, offering critical essays on women and Islamic cultures in every region with significant Muslim populations. See especially Volume 3, "Family, body, sexuality and health".
Location: Penn Library Web
Encyclopedia of world cultures / David Levinson, ed. 10 vols. (with 2002 supplement). Boston, MA: G.K. Hall, 1991-1996.
See especially, vol. 9, Africa and the Middle East. Authoritative ethnographic descriptions of cultures worldwide. Sponsored by Human Relations Area Files.
Location: Museum Library Reference: GN550 .E53 1991
Cambridge world history of human disease. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993.
An excellent though now slightly dated survey. See especially chapters on "Diseases of Sub-Saharan Africa to 1860, "Diseases of Sub-Saharan Africa since 1860", "Disease ecologies of Sub-Saharan Africa", and brief chapters on specific diseases, and other social, historic, and epidemiological aspects of diseases.
Location: Penn Library Web
Location: Van Pelt Reference and other locations: R131 .C23 1993
Refugee and immigrant health : a handbook for health professionals / Charles Kemp and Lance A. Rasbridge. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
Describes infectious disease risks, mental health issues, and religious influences, and health beliefs and practices of 30 cultures from more than 40 countries producing immigrants and refugees. Individual chapters focus on Ethiopia and Eritrea, Liberia, and Somalia.
Location: Biomedical Library: RA418.5 .T73 K45 2004
Historical dictionary of international organizations in Sub-Saharan Africa / Terry M. Mays, Mark W. DeLancey. 2nd ed. (Historical dictionaries of international organizations series; 21.) Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, c2002.
Location: Van Pelt Reference: JZ4850 .M39 2002
Historical dictionary of refugee and disaster relief organizations / Robert F. Gorman. 2nd ed. (Historical dictionaries of international organizations series; no. 18.) Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2000.
Location: Van Pelt Reference: HV640 .G66 2000
Historical dictionary of civil wars in Africa / Guy Arnold. (Historical dictionaries of war, revolution, and civil unrest; no. 12.) Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 1999.
Location: Van Pelt Reference: DT21.5 .G89 1999]
Handbook of regional organizations in Africa / Fredrik Soderbaum. Uppsala: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, 1996.
Location: Van Pelt Reference: JX1995 .S5 1996
World health systems: challenges and perspectives / Bruce J. Fried and Laura M. Gaydos, eds. Chicago: Health Administration Press, 2002.
Recent survey of specific countries' national health systems. For each country profile, health needs, organization and management of the health system, financing, health resources, service delivery, and future prospects are presented. African countries covered are: South Africa, Botswana, Nigeria, and Democratic Republic of Congo.
Location: Van Pelt Reference: RA441 .W676 2002
National health systems of the world / Milton I. Roemer. 2 vols. Oxford University Press, 1991.
A little old. Volume 1 provides well-organized survey articles on specific countries' national health system organization, health resources, and health services delivery and expenditures for many countries. African countries covered are: South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Zaire, Zimbabwe, Liberia, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Gabon.
Location: Van Pelt Reference: RA393 .R593 1991
Better health in Africa: experience and lessons learned. Washington, DC: World Bank, 1994.
A good exposition of healthcare costs and obstacles confronted in healthcare delivery among African nations. Details may be out of date, but the issues persist.
Location: World Bank e-Library
Location: Van Pelt Library: RA545 .B48 1994
Disease and mortality in sub-Saharan Africa / Dean T. Jamison et al., eds. 2nd ed. Washington, DC: World Bank, 2006.
Presents current data and trends. Chapters on infant and child mortality, adult mortality, maternal mortality, specific diseases and conditions. Good chapter bibliographies.
Location: World Bank e-Library
Location: Van Pelt Library: RA552 .S8 D57 2006.
Principles of medicine in Africa / edited by Eldryd Parry ... [et al.]. 3rd ed. Cambridge University Press, 2004.
Comprehensive internal medicine textbook, providing a basic overview for major and typical diseases afflicting Africans, covering for each disease the problem in Africa, the organism, transmission (with regional differences), diagnosis, clinical features, management and treatment, and public health measures. Each disease description includes a bibliography.
Location: Biomedical Library: Oversize R651 .P74 2004. Dental Library: R651 .P74 2004
Special issue: Health strategies for modern Africa. Africa today vol. 40, no. 3 (September 1993).
Not an encyclopedia, but a very useful collection of articles surveying health care, family planning, AIDS and other diseases, food and nutrition, and other issues affecting health.
Location: EBSCO MegaFILE via Penn Library Web
Sick African, a clinical study / Michael Gelfand. Cape Town: Post-Graduate Press, 1944.
A classic handbook on diseases most common to people in Africa. Use BorrowDirect to obtain more recent editions.
Location: Biomedical Library: RC962 .A3 G45s 1944
"Unfinished agendas: writing the history of medicine of sub-Saharan Africa" / Maureen Malowany. African Affairs vol. 99, no. 395 (April 2000): 325-349.
A good, brief survey of colonial-era medicine and medical research in Africa, with very useful bibliographic footnotes.
Location: Highwire Press via Penn Library Web
AIDS in Africa / Max Essex et al., eds. 2nd ed. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 2002.
Recent broad survey of all aspects and issues regarding the topic. Good chapter bibliographies.
Location: Van Pelt Library: RA643.86 .A35 A35 2002
Migration and AIDS. Special issue. International Migration vol. 36, no. 4 (December 1998).
Includes survey articles on "West and Central Africa" and "Eastern and Southern Africa," describing characteristics of migrant populations, HIV prevalence among migrants, risk factors, and services and interventions.
Location: Blackwell Synergy web via Penn Library Web
Vivre et penser le sida in Afrique = Experiencing and understanding AIDS in Africa / Charles Becker et al. (Collection "Hommes et societes".) Paris: CODESRIA, Karthala, and IRD, 1998.
A collection of articles by social scientists on AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, drawing attention to underlying economic, social, and political contexts of African people, and to the way that they themselves interpret the AIDS epidemic.
Location: CODESRIA web
Location: Van Pelt Library: RA644 .A25 V58 1999
Population and health in developing countries. v. 1. Population, health and survival at INDEPTH sites. Ottawa, ON, Canada : International Development Research Centre, c2002.
Location: Van Pelt Library: RA652.2 P82 P67 2002
Encyclopedia of folk medicine: old world and new world traditions / Gabrielle Hatfield. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2004.
Location: Van Pelt Reference: R733 .H376 2004
African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications with supplement: search system for diseases / Hans Dieter Neuwinger. Stuttgart: Medpharm Scientific Publishers, 2000.
Location: Van Pelt Library: RS181 .N48 2000
Handbook of African medicinal plants / Maurice M. Iwu. Boca Raton : CRC Press, c1993.
Location: Biomedical Library: RS164 .I84 1993

Statistical resources

International historical statistics : Africa, Asia & Oceania, 1750-2000 / B.R. Mitchell. 4th ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.
Long time series for basic statistics on African countries, culled from national statistical abstracts and other sources. Scarce footnotes.
Location: Van Pelt Reference: HA4675 .M552 2003
African statistical yearbook = Annuaire statistique pour l'Afrique. Addis Ababa: Economic Commission for Africa, United Nations. Annual. 1974-present.
The official regional statistical abstract for Africa.
Location: Van Pelt: HA1955 .U5. Latest year in Van Pelt Reference
UNdata (United Nations Common Database).
One-stop shopping for time series published by the United Nations, UNICEF, UNESCO, World Bank, IMF, WHO, and other IGOs.
Location: UN web via Penn Library Web
African development indicators. New York: United Nations Development Programme and World Bank. Annual, 1992-present.
Statistics on economic and social conditions in individual African countries.
Location: Penn Library Web
Location: Van Pelt: HC800 .A1 A356. Latest year in Van Pelt Reference
DHS (Demographic and Health Surveys).
Major thinktank collecting analyzing demographic and health data for regional and national family planning and public health programs. Funded by USAID and administered by Macro International, Inc.
Location: DHS web
Burden of Disease Project / World Health Organization.
Estimates of incidence, health state prevalence, severity and duration, and mortality for over 130 major causes, for WHO Member States and for sub-regions of the world, for the years 2000 and beyond. Updates Global burden of disease: a comprehensive assessment of mortality and disability from diseases, injuries, and risk factors in 1990 and projected to 2020 / Christopher J.L. Murray and Alan D. Lopez, eds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard School of Public Health for WHO and the World Bank, 1996 [Biomedical Library and Van Pelt Library: RA441 .G52 1996].
Location: World Bank web
Health expenditures, services, and outcomes in Africa : basic data and cross-national comparisons, 1990-1996 / David H. Peter, et al. (Health, nutrition, and population series.) Washington DC: World Bank, 1999.
Location: World Bank e-Library
Location: Van Pelt Reference: RA410.55 .A357 H43 1999
World Bank Africa Household Survey Databank.
Online collection of fulltext reports, documentation, and data sets relating to more than 400 socioeconomic household surveys conducted in African countries.
Location: World Bank web
The Africa Multi-country AIDS Program, 2000-2006: results of the World Bank's response to a development crisis / Marelize Görgens-Albino ... [et al.]. Washington, DC: The Global AIDS Monitoring and Evaluation Team of the Global HIV/AIDS Program: ACTAfrica: World Bank, 2007.
Presents statistical findings from World Bank-financed programs in 30 countries. Includes a "Results Scorecard".
Location: World Bank e-Library
Location: Biomedical Library: RA643.86.A357 A35 2007
Project Atlas: Resources for Mental Health. World Health Organization.
Country profiles provide information on mental health policies and legislation, mental health financing and facilities, psychiatric beds and professionals, presence, role, and participation of non-governmental organizations, information gathering systems, programs for special populations, and generally-available therapeutic drugs (including cost).
Location: WHO web site
Print version known as: Atlas: country profiles on mental health resources 2001. Geneva: World Health Organization, 2001. Location: Van Pelt Reference: RA790 .A85 2001
Additional online statistical resources on Africa
Hyperlinks to many useful web sites, including World Development Indicators (World Bank), the USAID Greenbook, and national statistical agencies.
Location: Penn Library Web

Search Franklin for statistical information about your country using this keyword syntax:

([country name] or [country name synonym]) and (skey statistics or skey census)

For additional guidance on older statistics, consult "A quick note on finding historical statistics on African colonies" (Penn Library Web)

2. Bibliographic starting points
Franklin: skey and skey bibliographies
World bibibliographical series. Santa Barbara, CA: Clio Press.
Overall, an excellent series, describing English-language works with brief evaluative annotations on many topics.
Location: Van Pelt Library: various locations, most recent editions in Van Pelt Reference
Franklin keyword search for African volumes in the World Bibliographical Series: "world bibliographical series" and DT?
Northern Africa: a guide to reference and information sources / Paula Youngman Skreslet. (Reference sources in the social sciences series.) Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 2000.
Presents reference works on northern Africa, including the Maghreb and Egypt, the Sahel, and the Horn of Africa. Subject index covers health topics.
Location: Van Pelt Reference: Z3515 .S57 2000
Reference guide to Africa: a bibliography of sources / Alfred Kagan, ed. 2nd ed. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2005.
A very recent annotated list of reference books and literature surveys, arranged by topic. Although health and medicine are not covered, useful chapters treat agriculture, food supply and demography.
Location: Van Pelt Reference: Z3501 .K15 2005 (in process)
Africa: a guide to reference material / John McIlwaine. London: Hans Zell Publishers, 1993.
The best place to begin tracking down statistical publications from modern African countries and their colonial predecessors. Very handy, too, for identifying colonial governmental synonyms.
Location: Van Pelt Reference: DT3 .M35 1993
International population census publications, Series II, pre-1945. Guide to the microfilm edition / Diane M. Del Cervo, ed. Woodbridge, CT: Research Publications, 1984.
Brief bibliographic citations to microfilmed colonial-era census publications held at Van Pelt Microtext: Microfilm 4390.
Location: Van Pelt Microtext: HA36 .I568 1984
International population census bibliography, revision and update, 1945-1977 / Doreen S. Goyer. New York : Academic Press, 1980.
Very useful survey of post-World War II census activities in African countries and their colonial predecessors. Provides bibliographic citations to microfilmed census publications, 1945-1967, held at the Demography Library.
Location: Van Pelt Reference: HA155 .T492

3. Bibliographies -- the next step

Before wading into journal article indexes and databases, you should use these bibliographies to "scan" the literature, looking for buzzwords, repeated citations for specific journals, and so on. Remember, though, that monographic bibliographies go out of date soon after their publication. The following examples are listed from most recent to oldest.

"Anthropology and global health" / Craig R. Janes and Kitty K. Corbett. Annual Review of Anthropology vol. 38 (2009): 167-183.
"The past, present, and future of HIV prevention: integrating behavioral, biomedical, and structural intervention strategies for the next generation of HIV prevention" / Mary Jane Rotheram-borus, Dallas Swendeman, and Gary Chovnick. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology vol. 5 (2009): 143-167.
"Behavior, environment, and health in developing countries: evaluation and valuation" / Subhrendu K. Pattanayak and Alexander Pfaff. Annual Review of Resource Economics vol. 1 (2009): 183-222.
Challenging gender dynamics in the context of culture: annotated bibliography / compiled by Mandi Chikombero. Harare: Southern Africa HIV and AIDS Information Dissemination Service, 2008.
Location: Van Pelt Reference: RA643.86 .A356 C55 2008
"African genetic diversity: implications for human demographic history, modern human origins, and complex disease mapping" / Michael C. Campbell and Sarah A. Tishkoff. Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics vol. 9 (2008): 403-433.
"Gender in African population research: the fertility/reproductive health example" / F. Nii-Amoo Dodoo and Ashley E. Frost. Annual Review of Sociology vol. 34 (2008): 431-452.
"Health impact assessment of global climate change: expanding on comparative risk assessment approaches for policy making" / Jonathan Patz et al. Annual Review of Public Health vol. 29 (2008): 27-39.
"Sanitation for unserved populations: technologies, implementation challenges, and opportunities" / Kara L. Nelson and Ashley Murray. Annual Review of Environment and Resources vol. 33 (2008): 119-151.
"Yellow Fever: a disease that has yet to be conquered" / Alan D.T. Barrett and Stephen Higgs. Annual Review of Entomology vol. 52 (2007): 209-229.
"Design of health care technologies for the developing world" / Robert A. Malkin. Annual Review of Biomedical Engineering vol. 9 (2007): 565-587.
Uses data collected during field visits by Duke University students to hospitals as springboard to survey of larger issues.
Location: Annual Reviews via Penn Library Web
"Women, water, and development" / Isha Ray. Annual Review of Environment and Resources vol. 32 (2007): 421-449.
"Food and globalization" / Lynne Phillips. Annual Review of Anthropology vol. 35 (2006): 37-57.
"Persistent hunger: perspectives on vulnerability, famine, and food security in Sub-Saharan Africa" / Mamadou Baro and Tara F. Deubel. Annual Review of Anthropology vol. 35 (2006): 521-538.
"The relationship between economic growth and HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa: a review of the literature" / Patricia R. Costa. Ufahamu vol. 32, no. 1-2 (2005-2006): 171-190.
"'Sincedisa - we can help!': A literature review of current practice involving traditional African healers in biomedical HIV/AIDS interventions in South Africa" / Jo Wreford. Social Dynamics vol. 31, no. 2 (December 2005): 90-117.
"Mainstreaming HIV/AIDS in development sectors: have we learnt the lessons from gender mainstreaming?" / H. Elsey, R. Tolhurst, and S. Theobald. AIDS Care vol. 17, no. 8 (November 2005): 988-998.
"Fertility's fires and empty wombs in recent Africanist writing" / Nancy Rose Hunt. Africa vol. 75, no. 3 (2005): 421-435.
Reviews recent books on reproductive politics.
Location: Penn Library Web
HIV/AIDS, gender and rural livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa: an overview and annotated bibliography / Tania R. Muller. (AWLAE Series 2) Wageningen: Wageningen Academic Publishers, 2005.
On order.
HIV/AIDS and human development in sub-Saharan Africa: impact mitigation through agricultural interventions: an overview and annotated bibliography / Tania R. Muller. (AWLAE Series 3) Wageningen: Wageningen Academic Publishers, 2005.
On order.
HIV/AIDS and agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa: impact on farming systems, agricultural practices and rural livelihoods" / Tania R. Muller. (AWLAE Series 1) Wageningen: Wageningen Academic Publishers, 2004.
On order.
"Medical genetics in developing countries" / Arnold Christianson and Bernadette Modell. Annual review of genomics and human genetics vol. 5 (2004): 219-65.
Literature review on inequity between medical research and services in lower-resource countries. Based in part on research into community genetics services in rural South Africa.
Location: Annual Reviews via Penn Library Web
"Anthropology and circumcision" / Eric K. Silverman. Annual review of anthropology vol. 33 (2004): 419-445.
Recent literature review on anthropological research on male and female circumcision. Includes relationship between male circumcision in Africa and reduced rates of HIV, and controversies regarding female circumcision.
Location: Annual Reviews via Penn Library Web
Governing the African health system: bibliography = Gerer le systeme sanitaire africain: bibliographie. CODESRIA Documentation and Information Center, 2004.
Identifies approximately 400 books, articles, and web documents relating to health, politics, and society in Africa. Produced in conjunction with the inaugural session of CODESRIA's Institute on Health, Politics and Society in Africa. Bibliographic information only is presented, with no subject indexing.
Location: CODESRIA web
Gender and the economy of care: bibliography. CODESRIA Documentation and Information Center, 2004.
Identifies approximately 300 books, articles, and web documents relating to African women's access to health care and to development organizations. Produced in conjunction with the tenth meeting of CODESRIA's Gender Institute. Bibliographic information only is presented, with no subject indexing.
Location: CODESRIA web
"Drugs, sex, and HIV/AIDS in contemporary South Africa" / Catherine Higgs. African Studies Review vol. 47,no. 2 (September 2004): 124-130.
Reviews three recent books.
Location: Penn Library Web
"Poor people's experiences of health services in Tanzania" / Masuma Mamdani and Maggie Bangser. Reproductive Health Matters vol. 12, no. 24 (November 2004): 138-153.
Dossier HIV/AIDS in Africa. African Studies Centre, Leiden, 2003.
A very fine, long list of works from diverse sources published in 1999-2003 and held at the African Studies Centre's library. Hyperlinks into the ASC library catalogue provide abstracts. Hyperlinks to web sites identify leading organizations active in HIV/AIDS work in Africa.
Location: ASC Library web
"Debates: HIV/AIDS in Africa." CODESRIA bulletin, 2003, nos. 2-4: 44-106.
Not strictly a literature review or bibliography, this collection of articles celebrating CODESRIA's 30th anniversary, provides articles with rich bibliographies on many topics, including: social science and HIV/AIDS policies; corporate responses to the HIV/AIDS crisis; pharmaceutical economics, marketing, and policies; HIV/AIDS-related human rights litigation. Contributors are mostly Africa-based.
Location: CODESRIA web
"Population and African society" / Tukufu Zuberi, Amson Sibanda, Ayaga Bawah, and Amadou Noumbissi. Annual review of sociology vol. 29 (2003): 465-86.
Recent literature review on significant factors encouraging and constraining population growth that are unique or exceptionally significant to Africa.
Location: Annual Reviews via Penn Library Web
"Anthropology, inequality, and disease: a review" / Vinh-Kim Nguyen and Karine Peschard. Annual Review of Anthropology vol. 32 (2003): 447-474.
Annotated bibliography on gender and AIDS / Marita Eibl and Valerie Foster. Women and International Development Program, Michigan State University, (2003).
A very fine, highly selective, well-annotated bibliography relating gender and AIDS to development issues.
Location: MSU web
"HIV/AIDS in South Africa: a select bibliography" / Peter Limb. Society in transition vol. 33, no. 3 (2002): 455-469.
A very fine, very useful, wide-ranging list of works, arranged topically. Included in a Society in transition issue devoted to HIV/AIDS and South African society.
Location: EBSCO MegaFILE via Penn Library Web
"Recent research on the social history of medicine in Africa" / Elizabeth van Heyningen. South African Historical Journal vol. 45 (2001): 178-190.
Part of a special issue on "Histories of Reproductive Health and the Control of Sexually Transmitted Disease in Southern Africa: A Century of Controversy". Reviews five recent books.
"International AIDS research in anthropology: taking a critical perspective on the crisis" / Brooke G. Schoepf. Annual review of anthropology vol. 30 (2001): 335-361.
Includes ethnographies of AIDS. Watch out for many bibliographic errors.
Location: Annual Reviews via Penn Library Web
"Healthy cities: a guide to the literature" / Marina Kenzer. Environment and Urbanization vol. 11, no. 1 (April 1999): 201-220.
Gives examples of African participation in the Healthy Cities program.
Location: Penn Library Web
"Medical / health periodicals and books on Africa" / John Bruce Howell. Electronic Journal of African Bibliography no. 3 (1997).
Merely a very broad checklist of titles. Try to use your browser's "Find" command in lieu of browsing the list.
Location: EJAB web
"The public health aspects of complex emergencies and refugee situations" / M.J. Toole and R.J. Waldman. Annual review of public health vol. 18 (1997): 283-312.
Literature review on issures affecting populations in areas undergoing armed conflicts, including public health consequences of population displacement and the prevention of public health effects of complex disasters.
Location: Annual Reviews via Penn Library Web
Family planning and reproductive health services in Ghana: an annotated bibliography" / Yaw Oheneba-Sakyi, comp. (African special bibliographies series, no. 18) Westport: Greenwood Press, 1994.
Location: Van Pelt stacks: HQ766.5 .G5 O44 1994
Health in Botswana: an annotated bibliography / M. Mugabe and K. Moahi. Gaborone, Botswana : Published on behalf of the National Institute of Development Research and Documentation, University of Botswana, by Lentswe La Lesedi (Pty), 1994.
Location: Van Pelt Library: RA552 .B55 M84 1994
Mental health and psychiatry in Africa: an annotated bibliography / David Westley. New York: Hans Zell, 1993.
Brief abstracts covering English- and French-language articles and books from 1936 to 1993. Emphasizing traditional healing. Subject index.
Location: Van Pelt Library: RC451 .A4 W47 1993
Sexuality and health in sub-Saharan Africa: an annotated bibliography / Thomas George Barton. Nairobi: African Medical and Research Foundation, 1991.
Location: Van Pelt Library: RA644.V4 B37 1991
Health, disease, medicine, and famine in Ethiopia: a bibliography / compiled by Helmut Kloos and Zein Ahmed Zein. (African special bibliographic series; no. 13.) New York: Greenwood Press, 1991.
Large unannotated bibliography, 4614 citations, covering infectious and non-infectious diseases, food, malnutrition and nutrition rehabilitation, mother and child health, accidents, injuries, poisoning and intoxication, mental health, health services, traditional medicine, famine, and resettlement and refugees. Non-English Western-language titles appear to be translated; Amharic and other Ethiopic-language titles appear to be omitted.
Location: Van Pelt Library: RA552 .E8 K56 1991
Bibliography of health and disease in East Africa / editors, A.S. Muller ... [et al.]. New York: Elsevier, 1988.
Location: Van Pelt Library: RA552 .A353 B53 1988
Child health and mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa: an annotated bibliography from the 1975-1986 literature = Sante et mortalite infantiles en Afrique subsaharienne: bibliographie annotee de la documentation de 1975 a 1986 / compiler, Fiona Mackenzie. Ottawa, Ont.: International Development Research Centre, c1987.
Location: Van Pelt Library: RJ103.A4 M15 1987
Famine in sub-Saharan Africa: a select bibliography (excluding the Sahel) from 1978 / J.A. Seeley. (cite>Cambridge African Occasional Papers, no. 3) Cambridge: African Studies Centre, University of Cambridge, 1986.
Location: Van Pelt stacks: HC800 .Z9 F385 1986
Traditional medicine: implications for ethnomedicine, ethnopharmacology, maternal and child health, mental health, and public health: an annotated bibliography of Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean / Ira E. Harrison and Sheila Cosminsky. 2 volumes. New York: Garland, 1976-1984.
For Africa, almost 1,000 citations with abstracts, 1950-1981. Each volume arranged by broad topical areas (general, ethnomedicine, ethnopharmacology, health care delivery systems, maternal and child health, mental health, public health) for individual continents. Each volume includes a country index. Vol. 1 covers 1950-1975, vol. 2 covers 1976-1981.
Location: University Museum Library: GN477 .H37
"The illegal distribution of western medicines in developing countries: pharmacists, drug pedlars, injection doctors and others: a bibliographical exploration" / S. van der Geest. Medical Anthropology vol. 6 no. 4 (1982): 197-219.
Location: Museum Library: GN296 .M435
"The anthropologies of illness and sickness" / Allan Young. Annual review of anthropology vol. 11 (1982): 257-285.
One of two classic literature reviews from this annual volume. Surveys medical anthropological literature and general ethographic literature. The author's expertise treates Ethiopia.
Location: JSTOR via Penn Library Web
"Non-Western medical systems" / P. Worsley. Annual review of anthropology vol. 11 (1982): 315-48.
Broad literature review, approaching the topic from a culturally relativist perspective.
Location: JSTOR via Penn Library Web
Cross national study of health systems, countries, world regions, and special problems: a guide to information sources / Ray H. Elling. (Gale information guide library. Health affairs information guide series. vol. 3.) Detroit: Gale, 1980.
Old but very good bibliography with informative abstracts. "Africa" chapter, 417-61.
Location: Van Pelt Library: RA394 .E442. Biomedical Reference: Z6673.4 .E42 1980
Resources for Third World health planners: a selected subject bibliography / compiled with an introduction by Philip Singer & Elizabeth A. Titus. Owerri [Nigeria]; [Buffalo], N.Y.: Trado-Medic Books, 1980.
Location: Van Pelt Library: GR880 .S55
Health and society in Africa: a working bibliography / Steven Feierman, comp. Crossroads Press, 1979.
A major survey of the literature, somewhat superseded by the bibliography of The Social basis of health and healing in Africa / Steven Feierman and John M. Janzen, eds. Univ of California Press, 1992. [Van Pelt Library: RA418.3 .A35 S63 1992]
Location: University Museum Library: RA418.3 .A34 F44
"Disease and medicine in African history: a bibliographical essay" / K.David Patterson. History in Africa vol. 1 (1974): 141-148.
An early, very good precis of the literature on the topic.
Location: Penn Library Web
"Medical anthropology" / A.C. Colson and K.E. Selby. Annual review of anthropology vol. 3 (1974): 245-262.
Early literature review with large bibliography.
Location: JSTOR via Penn Library Web
Medical behavioral science: a selected bibliography of cultural anthropology, social psychology, and sociology in medicine / Marion Pearsall. Univ of Kentucky Press, 1963.
Unannotated, covers up to 1961.
Location: Storage: 610B .P312

4. Bibliographic indexes and abstracts -- the third step

General indexes and abstracts with strong African coverage

Several general tools do a good job of covering the scholarly and technical journal literature on health and society in Africa. Each one, however, has its own specialization, and Africa will be only a small part of its coverage. DO NOT RELY UPON ONE TOOL ALONE!

Popline. 1970-present.
The principal abstracting service for population studies, applied demography, family planning and related topics. Produced by Population Information Program, the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health.
Location: JHU web
IBSS = International Bibliography of the Social Sciences. 1951-present.
A major index, very large, focusing on anthropology, economics, political science, and sociology. Its strength is its coverage of publications outside North American and western Europe. Sponsored by UNESCO, produced by British Library of Political and Economic Science, London School of Economics and Political Science.
Location: CSA via Penn Library Web
EMBASE (complete file). 1980-present.
MEDLINE (complete file). 1966-present.
The enormous medical abstracting services, with solid coverage of health policy and public health. EMBASE appears to do a better job of covering the medical literature published in Africa, although you'll find lots of overlaps. Using this OVID version makes subject searching very simple, and if you're really obsessive the interface permits simultaneous searching of both databases. Produced by the US National Library of Medicine.
EMBASE - Location: OVID via Penn Library Web
MEDLINE - Location: OVID via Penn Library Web
Global Health Archive. 1908-present.
Bibliographic citations with abstracts for historical book and journal literature on public health, tropical and communicable diseases, nutrition, helminthology, entomology, and mycology.
Location: OVID via Penn Library Web
Population Index. 1935-present.
Abstracting service for scholarly materials in demography, including including fertility, mortality, population size and growth, migration, nuptiality and the family, research methodology, projections and predictions, historical demography, and demographic and economic interrelations. Online interface (1986-2000) allows for easy country name searching. JSTOR version provides clumsy search interface to complete contents, 1935-1985. Produced by the Office of Population Research, Princeton University.
Location: Princeton web (1986-2000)
Location: JSTOR via Penn Library Web (1935-1985)
CAB Abstracts. 1910-present.
A very large abstracting service covering an enormous range of topics, two-thirds relating to agriculture and veterinary and animal sciences. The remaining third however, covers human health, rural sociology, and other development-related topics. Its emphasis on applied subjects makes it particularly useful for finding case studies. Particularly strong on English-speaking countries worldwide, as it was formerly produced by the Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux.
Location: OVID via Penn Library Web
International Development Abstracts. 1982-present.
Excellent, print-only, abstracting service covering all aspects of development studies.
Location: Van Pelt Reference: HC59.69 .I57
Anthropology PLUS. Late 19th century-present.
By combining the two preeminent indexes for anthropology, Anthropological Literature (Tozzer Library, Harvard University) and Anthrological Index (Museum of Mankind, British Library), this large database provides near-comprehensive coverage of sociocultural anthropology, ethnology, and material culture publications, especially for Commonwealth countries and Africa. AnthroLit's enormous backfile begins in the late 19th century.
Location: OCLC FirstSearch via Penn Library Web
Historical abstracts. 1974-present.
Bibliographic citations with indexing and abstracts covering periodical literature on world history outside North America, 1450-present. Subject headings include countries and some placenames, also chronological subject searching by decade or century.
Location: Clio via Penn Library Web
Francis. 1984-present.
The French-language index for social sciences and humanities journal articles. Offers excellent coverage of languages other than English. Disciplinary coverage is oddly uneven: for the social sciences, strengths are in public administration, health, ethnology, and sociology. Some duplication occurs across subfiles, and citation errors may require creative locating. Produced by CNRS.
Location: OCLC FirstSearch via Penn Library Web

General African studies indexes and abstracts

African studies, especially for medicine and the social sciences, remains based in research centers and academic centers that often focus on specific issues. Many African studies bibliographic indexes and abstracts originate in the libraries or reading rooms of these centers, and so they reflect the strengths and weaknesses of their parents. DO NOT RELY UPON ONE TOOL ALONE!

African Studies Centre Catalogue (Leiden) = African Studies Abstracts.
Use the "Expert Search" mode. Searching this abstracting database has been made much friendlier through converting its old "(Country / subject code(s))" into actual words and phrases.
Location: ASC Library web
Bibliography of African Periodical Literature = Bullwinkle
By indexing complete runs of Western and African periodicals, Bullwinkle covers a lot of ground. However, as bibliographic citations display without subject indexing, this database can be overwhelming.
Location: University of Arkansas web
International African bibliography. London: K.G. Saur. 1971-present. Quarterly.
Indexes books, articles, and other materials, largely based upon the library holdings of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Presents a section on Africa in general, arranged topically (e.g., "Agriculture and nutrition," "Social studies"), followed by sections on individual countries. Issues include subject index; annual indexes for subjects, authors and personalities, ethnic groups, and languages.
Location: Van Pelt Library: DT1 .I574 (latest five years at Van Pelt Reference Stacks)
Current bibliography on African affairs. Amityville, NY: Baywood Publishing. 1962-present. Quarterly.
The only major African studies bibliographic serial to include a topical section on "Medical studies," citing the life sciences literature.
Location: Van Pelt Library: DT1 .I574 (latest five years at Van Pelt Reference Stacks)
Africa south of the Sahara, index to periodical literature, 1900-1970 / African Section, Library of Congress. 4 vols. (with supplements to 1977). Boston: G.K. Hall, 1971
An important journal article index covering many years of English- and French-language publications, mandatory for colonial-era research. Arranged by topics within individual country sections: see especially the topic subheading, "Medicine and health." Card-catalog reproductions may be difficult to read.
Location: Van Pelt Reference: shelved at west end

Specialist African studies indexes and abstracts

African Index Medicus. 1961-present
Bibliographic citations to medical and public health journal literature published in Africa. The web site was frequently down, but now runs fast and includes recent citations. Produced by Association for Health Information and Libraries in Africa with assistance from the WHO.
Location: AIM web site
AJOL: African Journals Online
NOT A FULLTEXT E-JOURNAL COLLECTION! AJOL provides tables-of-contents service for a large number of scholarly journals - especially life sciences journals - published in Africa. Use Franklin, the PennText article finder, and Interlibrary Loan to locate or request individual articles.
Location: AJOL web site
Index to South African Periodicals. 1942-present.
Citations with subject indexing for articles in more than 680 South African periodicals. The Penn Library does not hold most of these periodicals: use Interlibrary Loan to request article copies.
Location: South African Library web via Penn Library Web
Quarterly Index of African Periodical Literature
Covers East and Southern Africa-published periodicals. Based upon regular acquisitions by the Library of Congress Field Office, Nairobi. The Penn Library will have many of these periodicals, 2000-present, but be prepared to use Interlibrary Loan to request article copies.
Location: LC web

5. Grey literature and other fulltext collections
eHRAF collection of ethnography.
Fulltext collection of published ethnographic monographs on individual cultures worldwide. Sophisticated indexing for cultural materials makes reading the "help" pages mandatory.
Location: University of Michigan web via Penn Library web
International Documentation Network on the Great African Lakes Region
Fulltext documents on social, political, and economic current history of the African Great Lakes Region (Burundi, Rwanda and the surrounding countries -- Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Democratic Republique of Congo or Congo-Kinshasa).
Location: IDN web
Searchable fulltext (PDF-format) documents on a wide range of social, economic, political, and health topics from African research organizations, NGOs, educational institutions, and government agencies. Focused primarily on East Africa and Kenya in particular.
Location: via Penn Library Web
Collection Charles Becker: recherches et documents sur le Sida. African Digital Online Library: Collections
PDF-format fulltext documents on AIDS research and the history of medicine, gathered by Charles Becker. Includes programs, abstracts, and other materials from professional meetings held in Africa and other locations.
Location: AODL Web
Development Experience Clearinghouse
Fulltext collection of USAID technical and program documents on international development projects funded by USAID.
Location: USAID DEC web
FAO Corporate Document Repository
Documents from the Food and Agriculture Organisation
Location: FAO web
Fulltext repository for United Nations official documents. Updates daily. When using, remember that the Secretary General presents reports to the General Assembly or Security Council through cover letters: very long documents may be presented as a one-sheet letter!
Location: UN web
AccessUNDP: United Nations Development Programme Project Reports. 1972-1998.
Bibliographic descriptions of UNDP-funded project reports. Documents are included in UNDP Project Reports collection [Van Pelt Microtext: Microfiche 1100].
Location: Readex/Newsbank via Penn Library Web
UNDP Programme Documentation Library. Late 1990s-present.
Continues AccessUNDP and the microfiche UNDP Project Reports collection. This web site appears to have been killed in mid-2005.
WHOLIS (WHO Library Catalog)
Provides links to some fulltext WHO reports.
Location: WHO LNK web
World Bank Documents & Reports
Very large collection of World Bank working papers, project reports, country studies, and other materials.
Location: World Bank web
World Bank E-Library
Fulltext PDF-format collection of books -- not grey literature -- published by the World Bank beginning in 1984.
Location: World Bank web
HSRC Press
Fulltext PDF-format collection of books published by South Africa's principal applied social science research agency. HSRC research extends to other southern African countries. Reports include the Nelson Mandela HSRC study of HIV/AIDS (2002) and the National household HIV prevalence and risk survey of South African children (2004).
Location: HSRC Press web

6. Video and image resources
Penn Library videos
The Penn Library holds approximately 100 VHS videotapes, DVDs, and VCDs dealing with health in African societies. The primary collecting focus is on HIV and AIDS, with the centerpiece of the collection being a VHS series from Southern Africa, Steps for the future, that includes documentaries, short fiction films, public service announcements, and instructional videos on HIV/AIDS. Documentaries, ethnographic films, fiction shorts, and feature films cover a wide range of topics: hospitals, hygiene and access to water, traditional healing and folk medicine, famine, refugee health, sexual violence, circumcision, sexually transmitted diseases, sexuality, family planning, and popular conceptions of health, illness, and witchcraft.
Location: Hyperlink into VCaT (Penn Library video catalog)
Includes a large collection of photos, many on food relief activities, in addition to searchable fulltext (PDF-format) documents on a wide range of social, economic, political, and health topics from African research organizations, NGOs, educational institutions, and government agencies. Focused primarily on East Africa and Kenya in particular.
Location: via Penn Library Web
HIV/AIDS in Africa virtual exhibit. Herskovitz Library, Northwestern University.
Curated web exhibit illustrating realia and print materials including posters used to inform some African communities about HIV/AIDS.
Location: Northwestern University Library Web
Africa Focus: sights and sounds of a continent. University of Wisconsin Digital Collection.
Large online collection of images and sound recordings. Health-related materials cover health advertisements, traditional healing and ritual.
Location: Africa Focus Web