Thursday, January 21, 2010

Candido M. Africa on Stamps

Dr. Candido Macasaet Africa (1895-1945) was a doctor of medicine, scholar and researcher. His contributions to medical science made him internationally known and won “for the first time recognition of the Filipino scientist abroad, thus reflecting glory and honor upon calling and country.”

He was born in Lipa, Batangas on October 2, 1895. After graduation from the College of Medicine of the University of the Philippines, he taught at the Department of Parasitology, School of Hygiene and Public Health of the same college. He became associate professor and head of the department in 1932.

It was while teaching at the state university that he became involved in scientific research. In all, he wrote 69 scientific articles, some of which he co-authored with his colleagues Walfrido de Leon, E.Y. Garcia, P.G. Refuezo, F.J. Dy, J. Soriano, J.O. Nolasco, S.F. Sta. Cruz and A.V. Vasquez Colet. Among his important works were “ The Progress of Medical Science In The Philippines,” “An Anthropod Associated with Chronic Dermatitis Involving The Face,” “Three Cases of Insect Bites Involving Triatoma Rubrofasciata,” and “The Occurrence of Bartiella in Man, Monkey and Dog in the Philippines.” Much of his researches dealt with parasites that caused heart failure. He also worked on their effects on the other parts of human body. Finally, he undertook research on the causes and prevention of malaria.

In the course of his researches, he discovered four human flukes that attach themselves to the heart, resulting in disease and eventually death. This discovery was hailed as a significant contribution to medical science as it greatly benefited heart patients.

To improve his scientific skills, Dr. Africa at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and graduated with the Degree of Tropical Medicine in 1929. That same year he became a Fellow in the Tropen Institute of Humburg, Germany. A year later, he received a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. It allowed him to attend the Harvard Medical School at Cambridge, Massachusetts and John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland in 1930-1931.

In recognition of his extensive contributions to scientific research, his works were compiled in special books and were exhibited in 1937, during the silver jubilee of Dr. Sadao Yosida of the Institute for Research in Microbic Diseases of the Osaka Imperial University of Japan. In the same year, his works were also exhibited at the silver jubilee of Professor Sadamu Yokogawa of the Taihoku Imperial University in Formosa (now Taiwan) and in the 30th year of the professorship of Dr. K.J. Skrajabin of the All-Union Institute of Helminthology in Moscow, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, In 1938, in the silver jubilee of the professorship of Dr. Lauro Travassos of the Institute of Oswaldo Cruz in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, his works were also displayed.

Dr. Africa was known all over the world all over the works for his researches. This allowed him to visit leading laboratories undertaking experiments in parasitology in London, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Paris, Utrecht, Hamburg, Berlin, Vienna, Rome, and in other cities in Europe. He represented the Philippine Commonwealth at the Third International Congress of Microbiologist held in New York City, U.S.A., on September 1939. At this international gathering of well-known scientist, he read a monograph entitled, “Visceral Complications in Intestinal Heterophydiasis of Man.”

His other valuable works include “Certain Developmental Stages of Ascaris Lumbriocoides Ova in Live Tissue,” “Prelimanary Reports in Cystercerous Cellulose in Man,” “Notes on Malaria,”.

Dr. Africa’s activities, however, were not only confined to laboratory work. He was also an active member of scientific and technical organizations, Like the American Society of Parasitologists, the Philippine Scientific Society and the National Research Council of which he was a charter member. He was also a member of the Association of Tropical Medicine, the Philippine Medical Association, The Phi Kappa Phi , the Society For The Advancement of Research, and the Manila Medical Society.

As an authority on heart disease, he was written up in the 1938 editions of American Men of Science and in Who’s Who among Physicians and Surgeons. As an outstanding alumnus of the University of the Philippines, he was acclaimed one of the best scientists the state university had ever produced. In accordance with the recommendation of the Board of Citizens and the Board of Directors of the U.P. Alumni Association, he was awarded the Gold Medal of Merit and was conferred a Diploma of Honor for distinguished achievements in the field of parasitology.

He continued to serve in the government until the war broke out in 1941. He was a known figure among the Japanese military officers during the occupation of Manila but unfortunately he was one of those civilians who died in the battle of the liberation of Manila on February 12, 1945. His colleagues did not forget him. In the General Session of the Philippine Medical Association held in Manila on May 8, 1946, Doctor Africa was honored with a citation naming him a great doctor and scientist.

The stamp above was issued on June 1, 1995.