2008 | 135 |
Article title

Początek formalno-prawnych działań na rzecz publicznej ochrony zdrowia w dziewiętnastowiecznej Anglii

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The Beginning of Formal-Legal Activities in Favor of Public Health Protection in the 19th Century EnglandThe rapid progress which occurred in the sphere of industry in England in the second half of the 18th c. and at the beginning of the 19th c. – and consequently a change in the character of the society from an agricultural to an industrial one – had a direct impact on many walks of life, among which public health was not of least importance. A rapid and unplanned urbanization which was the consequence of an increase in the number of inhabitants in the cities, contributed to the worsening of sanitary conditions among the working class population, which had an impact, among others, on the rapid spread of infectious diseases. It is no coincidence therefore that the attempts aiming at an improvement of the public health system which emerged in the first half of the 19th c. – focused chiefly on an improvement of sanitation. Among the features that characterized the period prior to 1848 one finds, among others, a lack of national legislation concerning health and a lack of definite procedural principles relating to public health as a sphere of functioning of the state. Yet such activities were being effected on the local level and they originated from an increased awareness of the local authorities who attached an ever greater importance to the conditions of living of the local population in a given region. The first half of the 19th century is a period of drawing up the first reports which were the effect of gathering data and subjecting it to scientific analysis, that is attempts to “gauge the problem”. The results of these analyses exemplified an obvious correlation between sanitary conditions and the high rate of incidence of diseases and high mortality rate. The culminating point and at the same time an important caesura in the above-presented activities was the year 1848 and the adoption of the Public Health Act – the first act whose goal was to promote public health, The adoption of this act marked a clear-cut boundary line in the history of the development of public health in the 19th century England. In spite of the many shortcomings and imperfections – that are noticeable particularly from today’s perspective – this act was nevertheless a clear-cut reflection of the state’s interest in the issues associated with public health; moreover, it initiated a series of legislative steps and led to the creation of the first national institution responsible for shaping the health policy – the National Health Council. In spite of its very modest prerogatives, the Council testified to the acceptance of planned and oriented activities in issues related to public health.
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