Public Health History

The notion of public health denotes the healthcare system aimed at the protection and improvement of the health conditions of a community. In a narrower sense, it is a science of preventing illnesses and prolonging life. Additionally, public health promotes the sanitation of the environment, tries to control viral infections, and educates people about personal hygiene. However, the formation of public health was a time-consuming process, and its history comprises the period from ancient times until today. 

In antiquity, people believed that the religion, superstitions, and myths had been the primary reasons of the disease occurrence. However, the genuine causes of the early deaths and poor health conditions were related to the large groups of people and animals as the principal transmitters of illnesses. Additionally, the accumulation of waste and garbage that attracted insects and rodents to people’s settlements increased chances to develop an infectious disease (SPH, 2015).

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Throughout centuries, people were not aware of the real cause of illnesses, and Hippocrates was the first to view the spread of the diseases as the disruption of the balance between humans and environment. Although the theory was not elaborated, these thoughts gave an opportunity to consider the preventive and treatment methods of the diseases. Consequently, Greek physicians wrote out prescriptions indicating the necessary lifestyle changes, performed surgeries and bloodletting (SPH, 2015).

The former practices were widely applied in the European and Asian countries. Nevertheless, from 1347 to 1700s, the waves of Bubonic plague spread over the territories infecting people (SPH, 2015). The so-called doctors were using such treatment ways as aromatic herbs and smoke, but their attempts were in vain. Due to the lack of knowledge about possible connections between risk factors and disease, they had no possibility to develop effective strategies that could have prevent the disease.

In the 14th century, another sign of the public health development was observed. During the Black Death in Italy, people utilized a public health measure known as quarantine during which people remained in isolation for forty days without being infected (SPH, 2015). Despite the fact that this method is one of the oldest to prevent the spread of the illness, it is still very efficient even now.

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The next stage of the public health development is the epoch of Enlightenment that is viewed as a period of citizenship, rationality, a high value of intelligence, and reason. These ideas supported and strengthened the notion of public health. At the beginning of the 19th century, Jeremy Bentham explained the philosophy of utilitarianism, which provided the theoretical background for the development of public health policy. The theory was also assistive in the refinements of the general health condition and the decrease of mortality (SPH, 2015).

In the second half of the 19th century, the public figures defined a strong connection between poor health and poverty. Furthermore, the mortality rates were much higher in the countryside than in the cities. This trend was developing through decades that contributed to the formation of the Sanitary Idea. This idea had many proponents including a social reformer Edwin Chadwick. The fundamental concept was to clean the environment as far as garbage and sewage were associated with illnesses. It aided in getting rid of the infections sources. Chadwick also created the public health administration that dealt with health issues (SPH, 2015).

The 20th century turned out to have the most remarkable breakthroughs in the public health history. The introduction of vaccination helped prevent such infectious diseases as measles, smallpox, and diphtheria. Sanitation and personal hygiene were an assistive tool in the reduction of pneumonia and flu spread. Advances in food safety regulations led to the decrease of food infections. Nowadays, public health advances at a blistering pace. With the help of biology, medicine, environmental science, and other studies, it improves the general quality of life (SPH, 2015).

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To conclude, public health is a science that contributes to the excellent health condition. As far as it has been developing through centuries, today people have a possibility to live in a safe environment and be sure that they will not die from chickenpox or influenza. Therefore, public health is a core element in the healthy lifestyle of an individual.

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