Attempts to prevent illness and disease

Attempts to prevent illness and disease

Prevention Strategies in Middle Ages (c500-1500)

  • Miasma theory: Belief that bad smells or ‘miasmas’ caused disease. Keeping streets clean and the air smelling sweet was important to prevent illness.
  • Religious approaches: Prayer, pilgrimages, and holy relics were used as protection against illness.
  • Herbal remedies: These were used to prevent illnesses, based on the Theory of the Four Humours.
  • Quarantine: During the Black Death (1348-49), there were attempts to quarantine the infected to prevent spread.

Early Modern Prevention Methods (1500-1750)

  • Continuation of miasma theory: Still a strong belief in miasma and the importance of clean air.
  • Personal hygiene: Perceived correlation between hygiene and health, with wealthier people able to bathe regularly.
  • Regulation: Introduction of public health Acts to maintain cleanliness in towns.

19th Century Prevention (1800-1900)

  • Sanitation reforms: Dramatic improvement in public health due to individuals like Edwin Chadwick and John Snow.
  • Vaccination: Greater use of vaccination, after Edward Jenner’s development of the smallpox vaccine in 1796.
  • Quarantine and isolation: Continued use of quarantine and increased use of isolation hospitals.

20th Century Prevention to Present (1900-Present)

  • Antibiotics: Discovery and widespread use of antibiotics has significantly reduced many diseases.
  • Immunisation programmes: Regular vaccination and immunisation programmes for children and adults.
  • Public health campaigns: Government-backed campaigns promoting healthy lifestyles to prevent illness.
  • NHS and free healthcare: Establishment of National Health Service in 1948 made preventative healthcare more accessible.
  • Improved living conditions: Better housing, nutrition and working conditions have reduced spread of diseases.
  • Scientific research & technology: Advances in medical research and tech has allowed for earlier detection and prevention of diseases.