Britain: Health and the People (Medicine)

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  • Created on: 21-02-18 17:38

Medical progress

Medieval Islam made great contributions to medical knowledge and valued the medcial knowlege of the ancient Greek and Roman world.

Avicenna wrote the Canon of Medicine which became a standard European medical textbook.

Muslim scientist found new drugs and treatements. 

Muslim medical scholars, like Rhazes and Ibn al- Nafis, were critical of soem ancient learning.

Dissection for learning was banned.

Medieval dissesctions were to demonstrate that Galen was right.

Medieval surgery was often learnt on the battlefield. 

Some surgeons experimented with new ideas.

John of Ardenne was the most famous English surgeon of the time. 

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Public health in the Middle Ages

The hygiene in Medieval towns was poor.

Medieval town councils passed laws to improve cleanliness but could not enforce them.

Rivers were used for drinking waterr as well as waste removal.

Hygiene in monasteries and abbeys was better.

Conditions in monasteries were better because of their wealth, isolation and knowlege about hygiene.  

Epidemics like the Black Death flourished in the unhealthy conditions of the town. 

The Black Death killed half of Europe's population.

People at the time thought it was a punishment from God and had no effective remedy.

For those who survived there were great social and economic impacts. 

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The impact of the Renaissance on Britain

The Renaissance was a movement that questioned old accepted ideas. 

Printing was very important for spreading ideas.

Vesalius dissected human bodies himslef and made and recorded his dicoveries which showed how Galen was wrong. 

Vesalius' work was quickly copied by others such as Thomas Geminus in England. 

Pare developed new surgical techniques. 

Harvey used scientific methods to dicover the circulation of the blood but the ideas met much opposition. 

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Dealing with disease

Treatments in the 17th and 18th century were a mixture of traditional and new, more scientific, treatments.

In dealing with the Great Plague some of the measures taken would have helped but people were still no nearer explaining the epidemic.

Hospitals in the 18th century were better organised and directed at curing rather than simply caring for sick peple.

Some hospitals were specialised and doctors could train at them. 

Jjohn Hunter founded a scientific approach to surgery.

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Prevention of disease

Smallpx was the biggest killer of the 18th century.

Inoculation was the usual way to prevent smallpox, but it carried risks. 

Jenner tested whether cowpox vacination was better way to prvent smallpox. 

Cowpox vacination worked, but when Jenner pusblished his findings in 1798 there was opposition.  

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Advances in medical science in 19th century Britai

In 1800, there was no effective pain relief during surgery. Surgeons had to operate quickly.

In 1847, James Simpson found an effective safe anaesthetic- chloroform.

Opposition to the use of anaesthetics was overcome when Queen Victoria used it in childbrith. 

The risk of infection from surgery remained until Louis Pasteur's Germ Theory was accepted.

Joseph Lister publish Germ Theory through his use of carbolic acid to kill bacteria during surgery. 

Many doctors did not accept that germs caused disease: they thought germs were the product of disease and occured throgh spontaneous generation.  

Surgeons opposed Lister's methods and had their own methods to deal with infection. 

Germ theory advanced by 1866, cattle plague proved taht one microbe could casue illness by contact. It was further advanced by John Tyndall, who argued against spontaneous generation. 

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Further impact of Germ Theory in Britain

Robert Koch was a German doctor who applied Pasteur's Germ Theory to human disease. 

He identified specific germs that caused human disease. 

He provided bacteriologists with the tools to identify specific germs.

Germ Theory was accepted in the 1870s because of the agruments of John Tyndall.

Tyndall was backed up by other scientists who explained medically how Germ Theory caused infeaction. 

Pasteur and Koch were rivals, gaining fame through scientific discoveries.  

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Improvements in public health

People moved from the country to toens to find work in new factories. 

Cities became overcrowded. Living conditiosn were terrible, and diseases like cholera were common. 

Many believed that disease was spread by maisma.

Chadwick's 1842 report highlighted poor condititions in the cities.

Believed in a laissez faire idea.

The Public Health Act of 1848 set up a Central Board of Health and allowed towns to arrange Local Board of Health. 

In 1854, John Snow realised the link between contaminated water and cholera. 

After the Great Stink, Joseph Bazalgette built a new sewage system for London. 

In 1875 the 2nd Public Health Act ordered local councils to sort out their towns. 

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Modern treatment of disease.

The discovery and development of the first antibiotic (penicillin) by Fleming, Florey and Chain was a significant moment in medical history. 

A number of factors combined in the development and discovery of penicilling.

The 2nd half of the 20th century saw many scientific and mediacl discoveries and developements that proved significant in achieveing a fuller understanding of health and medicine. 

Overuse of antibiotics can prompt bacteria to evolve and become increasingly resistant. 

In recent years, alternative therapies such as acupuncture, hypnotherapthy and aromatherapy have become more and more popular in the UK. 

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The impact of war and technology on surgery

Some types of medicine can develop at a greater rate during wartime than in peacetime. 

During wartime, government spent lots of money on the development of the latest medical techniques. They knew that if medical services were good then more injured soliders would get fitter faster and then back onto the battlefield. 

WW1 saw major developments in X-rays, blood transfusions and plastic surgery. 

WW2 saw major developments in plastic surgery and drug treatments. 

Scientific and technological advances have led to dramatic changes in the way doctors have treated some medical conditions since the war. 

Some of the latest surgical methods include laser surgery, keyhole surgery and radiation therapy. 

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Modern public health

After 1900. the government began to have more involvement in public health. 

In 1906, the Liberal government introduced a series of reforms aimed at helping Britain's most vulnerable people. 

The Beveridge Report (1942) led to the creation of the welfare state and NHS. 

At first, doctors opposed the creation of the NHS. 

Today, the NHS faces many challenges.  

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