Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Dr. Livingstone Concocts “Rousers” to Fight Malaria


150 years ago, malaria was a mystery to doctors in Africa and the west.

On earlier expeditions, when Livingstone travelled along these same river banks, he recorded suffering from malaria dozens of times. Livingstone develops his own medicine and pioneered a systematic dosage to keep him alive. The main ingredient was quinine, found in the bark of the South American cinchona tree. Branded back home as the ‘Livingstone Rouser’ – it was marketed and sold for forty years. It would protect British soldiers, colonialists and merchants from malaria and allow them to build the largest empire of the age. Livingstone’s creation became known as ‘Rousers’ as they “roused” a patient from a debilitating fever.


PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.