Developments in public health and welfare

Developments in public health and welfare

Early and Medieval Ages (c500-1500)

  • Public Health Measures: Basic public health measures were introduced such as cleaning streets and prohibiting the dumping of waste in rivers.
  • Role of Religion: The Church played a significant role in public health by encouraging charity for the poor and sick.
  • Land Enclosure: The practice of land enclosure led to urbanisation, overcrowding, and a decline in public health due to increased disease spread.

Early Modern Period (c1500-1750)

  • Public Hospitals: There was a rise in the number of public hospitals providing care and support for those in poverty.
  • Urban Sanitation: City authorities developed organised methods for waste disposal to limit the spread of disease.
  • Quarantine: Quarantine during disease outbreaks was introduced as a preventative measure.

Industrial Revolution (c1750-1900)

  • Poor Law Amendment Act: The 1834 act came into place, providing a system of ‘poor relief’ and establishing workhouses for the destitute.
  • Public Health Acts: The 1848 and 1875 Public Health Acts introduced regulations for clean water and sanitation to improve living conditions.
  • Housing Reforms: The introduction of bye-laws regarding housing improved living conditions, reducing disease spread.

Modern Era (c1900-present)

  • Creation of NHS: The establishment of the National Health Service in 1948 increased access to healthcare for all, regardless of wealth.
  • Welfare State: The introduction of the welfare state and social services improved living standards and support for the vulnerable.
  • Preventive Medicine: Increased focus on preventive medicine led to public health campaigns and measures such as vaccinations and screening programmes.

Public Health Evolution

  • Over time, awareness of public health and the responsibility for it shifted from individuals to government and public organisations.
  • The understanding of disease transmission led to improved sanitation, housing, and public health measures.
  • The recognition of health inequalities and the right to healthcare lead to the provision of universal healthcare and the development of welfare services.