gms | German Medical Science

102. Jahrestagung der DOG

Deutsche Ophthalmologische Gesellschaft e. V.

23. bis 26.09.2004, Berlin

Harvard African Expedition in 1934

Meeting Abstract

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Evidenzbasierte Medizin - Anspruch und Wirklichkeit. 102. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Ophthalmologischen Gesellschaft. Berlin, 23.-26.09.2004. Düsseldorf, Köln: German Medical Science; 2004. Doc04dogSO.08.07

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Published: September 22, 2004

© 2004 Kluxen.
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In 1930, Hissette had discovered thousands of people with river blindness on the Sankuru. Up to that time, eye conditions in onchocerciasis were known in Central America, but not in Africa. Hissette had already seen patients with corneal degeneration after iridocyclitis and keratitis at his mission station 400 km away from the Sankuru-river, but it was only at the Sankuru that he recognized with certainty that this was caused by onchocerciasis. Four years later the Harvard African Expedition to the Belgian Congo under Richard Pearson Strong with five American colleagues was organized at Belgium expense. This members had to check Dr.Jean Hissette's reports because there were doubts about his findings.


Six reels of 35 mm safety film B & W (total film running time = 54,2 minutes) from this Harvard African Expedition have just been found in archives of the Harvard University Medical School. These films are transferred to DV CAM (Digital Video), scenes were identified with the aid of the notes made by Richard Pearson Strong.


Analyses of scenes and pictures of this film. Confronted in 1934 by the commission in the form of the Harvard African Expedition, Hissette travelled once more to the Sankuru with the Americans as seventh member of the expedition and showed them 'his' river blindness patients. The best school is the field, said Hissette.


The Harvard African Expedition of 1934 finally confirmed all the observations on river blindness caused by onchocerciasis that had already been communicated by Hissette and filmed the same people who had been discovered for the first time by Hissette in 1930.