Modern Concept of Preventive Medicine:
Now let us see how the current concept of preventive medicine came into being. The story began only 150 years ago. People returning from a trip to USA, Europe or Japan undoubtedly are very fascinated and narrate modem technological advances. Another aspect they often remark on is the cleanliness observed in their cities. Would you believe that a person who throws garbage outside the house or on the road or even on the highway has to pay a heavy fine? Were these nations as clean as they are today? No, in fact, about 150 years ago, after the Industrial Revolution, working class people of western countries lived in extremely filthy conditions. Piles of refuse in front of houses, lack of sewerage, slaughter houses full of flies, etc. were similar to what we witness in the dd crowded areas of Indian cities and in most of our villages today. Till then, the western people did not know that filth was the greatest enemy of their health. During the Industrial Revolution in Europe, a close connection between disease and sanitary conditions was demonstrated. At that time as.many as 30 families shared one lavatory. Outbreak of epidemic diseases like cholera was very common. It was observed that labourers suffered a far higher incidence of disease than the middle and upper classes.
As a result of these findings, the concept of state accepting responsibility of people's health appeared, and state health laws were made and enforced by the police. A major epidemic of cholera occurred in 1832 in England. Then the sanitary cpnditions of the working class wereinvestigated.
It led to the belief that cholera and other diseases arose from the stinking gases that accompanied decaying animal matter. Water was found to have a role in the transmission of disease. In 1848. England promulgated its Public Health Act, which defined the role of the state in peoples' health and led to a great awareness about sanitary matters. In 1875, the Public Health Act defined the steps for a clean environment and for clean water. Other European countries and America followed suit. Steps were taken to ensure clean water, smundings, houses and for control of offensive trades, such as carrying of garbage or excreta.