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HISTORY OF MEDICINE NURSING AND PUBLIC HEALTH
Nursing from 1850
Up to 1850, nursing was seen as a lowly occupation for the uneducated.
When Theodor Kaiserwerth set up a nursing school in Germany in 1853
which was visited by Elizabeth Fry and encouraged her to set up the first
British nursing school.
Florence Nightingale came from a wealthy family who predictably were not
in favour for her to pursue her nursing ambitions.
During the Crimean War (1854-6), Nightingale was asked to superintend the
nursing of wounded soldiers. She hand-picked 33 nurses and together, by
keeping wounds clean, patients fed and good sanitation and water supply
reduced death rates in the hospital from 42% to 2%.
Mary Seacole was Jamaican and was subject to racism when she applied to go
to Crimea as a nurse. At a huge personal sacrifice she made her own way
there and cared for the patients, giving them medicines and care, however
when she returned she became bankrupt and nobody took interest in her
When returning, Florence Nightingale won huge public acclaim, and used her
fame to publish a book called `Notes on Nursing' in 1859, which stressed the
importance of ward cleanliness and professionalism.
A fund was opened for her to form a nursing school where nursing became a
profession producing professional nurses. In 1919 the Registration of
Nurses Act was passed to ensure that all nurses were qualified, giving the
profession the respect which it deserved.
Public Health from 1700
During the Industrial Revolution, factory towns were set up for workers to
work in the new factories. These towns were overcrowded and there was
little provision for fresh water and sewage disposal so the town houses were
verminous, badly ventilated and contaminated with sewage.
Outbreaks of diseases such as TB, influenza and typhoid spread through the
dirty water but the worst was cholera which struck in 1831-2.
It spreads through dirty water that is contaminated with the sewage of its
other victims. In continued to return in 1848, 1854 and 1866 as nobody had
any clues to its cause or cure.
Edwin Chadwick published a report in 1842 about the living conditions of
the poor that linked sickness with poverty.
In 1847 due to support originating from Chadwick's report, a Public Health
Bill was introduced and in 1848, due to another outbreak of cholera the first
Public Health Act was voted in favour.
Public Health Reforms
The first Public Health Act had little effect as sewage disposal and water
supplies were only improved in a few towns.
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The second Public Health Act of 1875 compelled councils to provide street
lighting, clean water, drainage and sewage disposal the first major public
health attempt since Roman times.
In 1902 when 40% of those who volunteered to fight in the Boer War were
found to suffer from malnutrition/disease. This along with concerns of the
newly formed Labour Party led to the Liberal government realise that
something needed to be done.…read more