On TB Vaccines, Patients’ Demands, And Modern Printed Media In Times Of Biomedical Uncertainties: Buenos Aires, 1920–1950

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Journal Of Bioethical Inquiry


Reconstructing some of the experiences of people living with tuberculosis in Argentina in the first half of the twentieth century, as reflected not only in written and oral accounts but also in individual and collective actions, this article explores the ways in which patients came to grips with medical expertise in times of biomedical uncertainty. These negotiations, which inevitably included adaptations as well as confrontations, highlight a much less passive and submissive patient–physician relationship than is often assumed. Though patients were certainly subordinate to medical doctors’ knowledge and practices, that subordination, far from absolute, was limited and often overthrown. The article focuses on patients’ demands to gain access to a vaccine not approved by the medical establishment. By engaging with media organizations, the sick invoked their “right to health” in order to obtain access to experimental treatments when biomedicine was unable to deliver efficient therapies.


Argentina, TB patients, Vaccines, Printed media, Patients’ collective actions