Orenstein, Alexander Jeremiah

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ORENSTEIN, ALEXANDER JEREMIAH (1879–1972), South African medical scientist. Of Jewish origin, Orenstein was one of the teams of experts who, under W.C. Gorgas, cleared the Panama Canal Zone of yellow fever and malaria (1905–12). His experience of tropical and subtropical diseases led to his appointment in 1913 in the health services of German East Africa. In 1914 he was taken to South Africa by a Rand mining company to help reduce the incidence of pneumonia and tuberculosis which were taking a heavy toll among miners in the goldfields. Over the years, spectacular results were achieved in reducing the death rate, especially among African mine workers. Orenstein was director of the pneumoconiosis research unit of the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research when he retired in 1959. He had an international reputation and often represented South Africa at world health and labor conferences. Orenstein was director-general of medical services in the South African defense forces in both world wars, with the rank of brigadier (later major-general).


A.P. Cartwright, Golden Age (1968); South Africa's Hall of Fame (1960).

[Louis Hotz]