Canadian Medical Lives
Series edited by T.P. Morley, M.D.
R.G. Ferguson: Crusader against Tuberculosis
By: C. Stuart Houston
Published: Dundurn Press (1991)
Robert George Ferguson, O.B.E., B.A., M.D., LL.D., 1883-1964, was a leader in North America's fight against tuberculosis. Impoverished, thinly populated Saskatchewan was an improbable setting for such success. After his appointment as acting medical superintendent of the first provincial sanatorium, Ferguson became secretary of the Saskatchewan Anti-tuberculosis Commission and was thereby able to plan his lifetime campaign against the disease.
Ferguson harnessed the cooperative spirit so necessary for survival in a new province with poor roads and harsh winters. Under his gentle guidance, individuals, service clubs, municipalities and the provincial government worked together to lead Canada in a costly but effective grass-roots fight against the number one health problem, tuberculosis.
On 1 January 1929, Saskatchewan was, by eight years, the first jurisdiction in North America to provide free tuberculosis diagnosis and treatment. Ferguson completed two landmark studies: the first BCG prophylaxis in Indian infants, and the first 5CC prophylaxis in student nurses. He organized the first photofluorographic survey in North America. Ferguson is commemorated by the E.G. Ferguson professorship at the University of Saskatchewan.
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