What is history? Why do we need to study history? When I first started this assignment, I wondered why we needed to describe the history of public health and include pertinent dates and significant events. Being a good student, I did what I was told. While doing the research I realized that history is what shapes us. We not only learn from our successes, but our failures too. History has transformed us into what we are and why we do the things that we do.
The History of Public Health
According to the “Southeast Public Health Training Center” (2012), “Leviticus is believed to be the first written health code in the world” (para. 1). The book of Leviticus was ...view middle of the document...
There was also an increased concern about infant mortality as a threat to long term availability of a productive working society” (para. 8).
During the Industrial Age of the 18th century and Industrial Revolution of the 19th century, people moved to cities in mass numbers looking for work, thus causing overcrowding, inferior sanitation, and disease. With an increase in urban population, health care issues needed to be addressed. In 1793, the worst outbreak in yellow fever occurred in Philadelphia which was the capitol at that time. This caused the evacuation of numerous influential people. Since many health threats related to maritime trade, for example scurvy and yellow fever, and other diseases that were brought to America by ships; the U.S. government in 1798 created a network of hospitals known as the Marine Hospital Service. It was the Marine Hospital Service which eventually, in 1912 became known as the U.S. Public Health Service (“U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Historical Highlights,” 2006). Near the end of the 19th century, Dr. Stephen Smith founded the American Public Health Association (APHA) in 1872 (“American Public Health Association,” 2014) and Lillian Wald (1867-1940), otherwise known as the mother of public health nursing, started the Henry Street Settlement in 1895, thus giving the poor access to medical care.
According to the “Southeast Public Health Training Center” (2012), during the early 20th century “many public health advances grew out of social reform. Thirty-eight states created health departments,” (para. 34). Contagious diseases continued to be the typical cause of death. Beginning in1918 and continuing into the 1950’s, the influenza outbreak claimed over 600,000 lives which only recently was learned to be a strain of the avian flu (“Southeast Public Health Training Center,” 2012). Between 1920 and 1940, the two most predominant forces influencing health and human services were World War I and the depression. According to “Southeast Public Health Training Center” (2012), “there was no health insurance and people were dependent on charities for health care,” (para. 44). In 1928, penicillin was discovered by Alexander Fleming, and is considered a very significant finding of the 20th century because of the medications capability to destroy bacteria and combat infectious disease (“Southeast Public Health Training Center,” 2012).
In 1946 the Communicable Disease Center was established and later became known as The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), (“U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Historical Highlights,” 2006).
The 20th century had many wonderful advances for public health, such as the polio vaccine in 1954 and the passing of the Migrant Health Act in 1962, which offered funding for clinics that served agricultural workers and in 1966 Community Health Centers and Migrant Health Centers programs were initiated (“U.S. Department of Health and Human...