Slave health on American plantations
Diseases among slaves
While working on plantations in the Southern United States, many slaves faced serious health problems. Improper nutrition, unsanitary living conditions, and excessive labor made them more susceptible to diseases than their masters; the death rates among the slaves were significantly higher due to diseases. Human excretions in the water supply caused cholera, diarrhoea, typhoid, tuberculosis, influenza, and hepatitis, as well as other things such as STD's.[dubious ]
The calories in the diet of a slave were sufficient to maintain the slave’s body weight and normal health. The daily energy intake of an adult slave was between 2500 to 3000 calories. So it was enough for the whole day’s work.[dubious ] However, in terms of nutrition, it was not adequate. More than four-fifths of their calories came from corn and pork. It has also been reported that their diet also included bread, vegetables, fruits, and other meats. Less calories came from proteins as compared to fats and sugars. However, their diet was low in iron and important vitamins. Some of the slaves also had low levels of calcium due to lactose intolerance, which is more common among those with African ancestry; other intestinal diseases were also problems for them. Due to vitamin A deficiency, some of them had weakened nocturnal eyesight.. Diseases such as anemia (due to inadequate iron) and rickets (inadequate vitamin D)[dubious ] were caused by malnutrition among the slaves. Thus, due to dietary quality, not quantity, the slaves developed health problems.
Slaves were given two outfits of clothing a year,[dubious ] for winter and for summer. The masters only gave them pairs of "gator shoes" or "brogans" for footwear, and sometimes children and adults who were not working had to walk around barefoot. However, these clothes and shoes were insufficient for field work; they did not last very long for field slaves. It is judged that the health of male workers broke down rapidly after they joined the field gangs. Clothing and shoe supplies from masters, in other words, made matters worse for slaves.
Medical attention given to slaves
Slave masters often tried to cure their ill slaves before they sent the slaves to a doctor. Planters wishing to save money relied on their own self-taught skills and the help of their wives to address the health care needs of slaves. Some blacks developed or retained from African heritage their own brand of care, complete with special remedies, medical practitioners and rituals. If the home treatment did not help to improve the slave’s condition, they would then send them to the physician or asked the doctor to come to the plantation. A slave who became ill meant loss of working time; death an even greater loss. Given the cost of slaves and their importance to plantation economies, planters organized slave hospitals to treat their serious health problems.
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