Public health: short history

Industrial revolution had changed everything including lifestyle, mindset throughout industry world as well as on sanitation condition. The sanitation condition was very sad, at least this was expressed in the Report from the Poor Law Commissioners on an Inquiry into the Sanitary Conditions of the Labouring Population of Great Britain. Implicitly this was represented by philosophy of Edwin Chadwick (1800–1890) who viewed the improvement of drainage, housing and water supply as an essential national economic good, as it prevented the early deaths of working men. The sanitation condition at that time was described:

Many dwellings of the poor are arranged around narrow courts having no other opening to the main street than a narrow covered passage. In these courts there are several occupants, each of whom accumulated a heap. In some cases, each of these heaps is piled up separately in the court, with a general receptacle in the middle for drainage. In others, a plot is dug in the middle of the court for the general use of all the occupants. In some the whole courts up to the very doors of the houses were covered with filth.

Stream rivers in urbanized areas were affected by open sewers in city. The River Cam, was great polluted for many years. Historical record showed that the River Cam was grossly polluted by sewage from Cambridge in the 19th century, but 1897 onwards, the chemical and biology quality was improved.

During the middle of the nineteeth century, public health measures were not sufficient and efficient as well. It had driven the condition to an appaling stage in public health concern. The appaling sanitation condition was also triggered by the development of technology. At least by the time Philip Reis invented the telephone, nearly 80% lived in urban areas in 1860. At that time, the theory of disease and illnesses were not fully noted and appreciated, this made epidemics became global symptoms over major cities in the world. Roy Porter described, in his excellent medical history, a vivid picture of the kind of life the working classes led in 19th century Britain and the industrialising world. He was describing how terrible sanitation condition at that time, that would make life expentacies were really low.

However, some minor public health measures did have a positive result, such as removing corpses during epidemics, mass education of sanitation, pay attention to cleanliness, these were known to help the public health. These all led to the decline of infant mortality rates at the end of the 19th century. Identification of Cholera 1884 was extensively studied, and it was identified in water via the microscope and could now be contained by public health officials.

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