7th May 2004 at 01:00
KS 2-3

Ask students to write out a list of warnings on the dangers of disease, and advice on how to counter them, given to travellers and explorers such as Europeans heading to the New World in the 15th and 16th centuries or British migrants to Australia or other outposts of the British Empire. Then add an interesting twist by asking them to write a WHO report from a particular period examining the impact of imported diseases. Research suggests that by far the biggest impact of European expansion on indigenous populations was the importation of diseases such as smallpox to North America or Australasia. Students investigating the history of medicine at GCSE might look at the prevalence of malaria over time. The Turkish example in the article is very similar to the plagues which affected the later Roman Empire.

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