Pharmatrash: The social life of medical waste in a South African district

Much of the focus of health advocacy within post-apartheid South Africa has been on public access to medicines. Comparably little attention has been trained on their discard and disposal. This study, about the social life of medical waste, explores what happens to medical products after they have been prescribed and purchased. Based on three years of collecting pharmaceutical waste, within public sites in South Africa’s Eastern Cape, I examine what rubbish reveals about medicines-taking in post-Apartheid South Africa. I focus on both ‘over-the-counter’ and ‘prescribed’ medicines, investigating their circulation within thriving economies of formal, adaptive and illicit use. This research combines a focus on primary materials with the secondary literatures from the medical and pharmaceutical humanities, public health, and the emerging field of ‘discard studies’.

Tue, 23 Oct 2018 - 12:45
Venue: 

Seminar will take place on Tuesday, October 23 at 12:50 pm in the Centre for Social Science Research Seminar Room, 4.29, Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus

Contact Information: 

Nondumiso Hlwele dumi.hlwele@uct.ac.za

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