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  • Print publication year: 1993
  • Online publication date: March 2008

III.11 - History of Public Health and Sanitation in the West since 1700

from Part III - Medical Specialties and Disease Prevention
The nature and role of public health are constantly changing, and its definition has been a major preoccupation of public health leaders in the twentieth century. In the eighteenth century, John Locke's Essay on Human Understanding, emphasizing the role of environment, encouraged intellectuals, to advocate improving the lot of human beings through social reform. In mid-nineteenth century, a host of scientists working in microbiology was changing the whole basis for public health. Important health area that had its origins in Europe in the late nineteenth century was school health. Since World War II, public health agencies, having won control over most of the contagious infections that formerly plagued the Western world, have turned their attention to chronic and degenerative disorders and to the problems of aging. The twentieth century has seen public health shift from an emphasis on the control of contagious diseases to the broader view that public health should concern itself with all factors affecting health and well-being.
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The Cambridge World History of Human Disease
  • Online ISBN: 9781139053518
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