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A Report on the Problems Affecting Public Health in 1830-1848

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A Report on the Problems Affecting Public Health in 1830-1848 There were major problems affecting public health in 1830-1848. There were many factors which contributed to the terrible state of the British population's health. This report comments specifically on the problems affecting public health in Britain in 1830-1848 and contributes the reasons social reform was so necessary during this time. The Industrial Revolution in the early part of the 19th century had caused a significant increase in the country's population, particularly concentrated in towns and cities, which became overcrowded due to their rapidly increasing industry providing vast employment opportunities. As a result of this population boom the towns and cities found there was not enough time or money available to provide the migrated workers suitable housing facilities. This resulted in extremely poor living conditions within the industrial towns and cities. The aim of these industrial areas was to provide accommodation for the new workers as quickly and as cheaply as was possible. As there were very few building regulations this was achieved by the construction of rows of cramped back-to-back houses. The houses were constructed in rows, which joined up to other rows to form a block of houses with a small courtyard in the middle. ...read more.


There were many common diseases during this time such as cholera, scrofula and diphtheria but perhaps the most terrible of these diseases was cholera. Cholera had a high fatality percentage (40-60%) and could strike with great speed. The first cholera epidemic appeared in 1832, killing approximately 32 000 people in the whole of Britain. A worse epidemic of the disease appeared in 1848, killing 67 000 people and resulting in cholera claiming the lives of over 90 000 people. These epidemics had a profound effect upon the public demonstrated by widespread rioting in towns and cities throughout Britain in 1832. The cause of the riots was dubbed 'cholera phobia', which arose out of panic at the rumours of medical students stealing bodies, doctors murdering cholera victims and victims being buried alive due to the haste they were buried in to try and control the spread of the disease. It was true that there were unsatisfactory measures for funerals and burials at this time. During the cholera epidemics bodies were buried quickly to try and prevent the spread of the disease, which resulted in shallow graves and overcrowding in the cemeteries. The panic of trying to bury cholera victims as quickly as possible was not actually necessary as cholera is not an infectious disease but is passed through the water supply. ...read more.


In 1846 certain towns and cities passed their own Sanitary Acts, which made the council responsible for living conditions e.g. housing, sewers, water supply etc. Chadwick became the Head of the General Board of Health in 1848, which was created by the Public Health Act (passed the same year), whose introduction Chadwick had campaigned for. The General Board of Health supervised the smaller Boards of Health established in the towns and cities. The Boards of Health were responsible for the sewage, drainage and water supply of their area and had wide powers over issues relating to public health. However, the Public Health Act carried no compulsion to be abided to due to its' permissive nature; this meant that changes in public health were not significantly undertaken by the authorities with Boards of Health. In conclusion, the problems affecting public health in the period 1830-1848 are linked to one and other. A rapid increase in population, caused by the effects of the Industrial Revolution, resulted in bad housing conditions which led to poor hygiene and eventually leading to widespread disease. It was obvious from the information obtained by reports at this time that there was a significant need for social reform. Although the 1848 Public Health Act did little to improve living conditions it signified a major shift towards central government intervention in the support of social issues; an area it had previously considered to be outside its' jurisdiction. ...read more.

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