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History Of Public Health Essay

1102 words - 4 pages

Public health strategies and interventions have changed drastically over time. Bloodletting is one of the most ancient forms of medical interventions. It originated in the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Greece, persisting through the Medieval, Renaissance, and Enlightenment periods (PBS). Doctors used the bloodletting method for every ailment imaginable; from pneumonia, bone fractures, and even wounds, bloodletting was as trusted and popular as aspirin is today.

Public health can be dated back to the Romans whom understood even during this time frame that proper division of human waste was a necessary tenant of public health in urban areas. Even dating as early as 1000 BC, the Chinese developed the practice of variolations following a smallpox epidemic. An individual without the disease could gain some measure of immunity against it by inhaling the dried crusts that formed around the lesions of infected individuals. Children were protected by inoculating a scratch on their forearms with the pus from a lesion. However, this practice of vaccination did not become prevalent until the 1820s, following the work of Edward Jenner to treat smallpox (Kumar, 2007).

When the Black Plaque stuck Europe in the 14th century, many different intervention techniques were used. Removing bodies of the dead was thought to prevent the spread of the infection, however this did little to stop the spread of the rodent-borne fleas carrying diseases. Burning parts of cities resulted in much greater benefit, since it destroyed the rodent infestations. The development of quarantine in the medieval period helped mitigate the effects of other infectious diseases as well.
The history of public health in the United States can be divided into four major eras: Before 1850- battling epidemics; 1850-1949- building state and local infrastructure; 1950-1999- filling gaps in medical care delivery; and after 1999- preparing for and responding to community health threats (Turner 2012). Progression through these eras resulted in the improvement of health strategies and interventions, allowing for the United States to be proactive in their preparation efforts of disease, rather than reactive to the imminent threat to human health and safety. The 20th century was the single most advancing era of public health in history, changing not only the world of medicine as we know it, but changing public perception of the world they live in .

Throughout history until the 19th century, infectious diseases, epidemics, and pandemics were thought to be the manifestation of supernatural forces and little to nothing was truly effective in preventing or treating these devastating threats to society. It was only during the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment that the long-accepted realities of society were questioned and research was conducted based on science and reason that would forever change the world we live in (Kumar, 2007). The science of epidemiology was founded by John...

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