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How important was the work of Edwin Chadwick in improving public health in the towns in the 19th century?

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How important was the work of Edwin Chadwick in improving public health in the towns in the 19th century? Edwin Chadwick provided a great deal of evidence supporting his beliefs on public health reforms. He recognised that diseases were caused by the unhygienic living conditions; he understood that clean water was linked to better health and that professional medical assistance was needed in towns. In 1848, the government finally approved Chadwick?s proposal of setting up the Board of Health and creating the Public Health Act, due to the second outbreak of cholera. Although these recommendations were carried out, the first Act did not promote health reforms very well, as it was not compulsory for towns to improve their living conditions and it would also lead to higher taxes. ...read more.


John Snow?s inclusive research on the Broad Street pump during the cholera outbreak in 1854 allowed him to finally confirm that cholera was caused by contaminated water- the pump had been polluted by a nearby cesspit which shows that health measures were minimal. Soon afterwards, Joseph Bazalgette constructed London?s sewer system which was so well designed that we still use it today which shows how significant his work was. The government also played an important part for refining public health as they have control over the rest of the population. They have the power to reduce taxes on basic necessities such as soap and cleaning the streets (even though they did it reluctantly) or allow the construction of a sewage system, for example. ...read more.


Chadwick?s influence declined as more medical discoveries were made. His work was important in terms of supporting public health, however most of his evidence came from other people; he never wrote down his own detailed observations. The other men who worked to improve public health all played specific roles; Bazalgette designed a sewer that could operate in future generations, Snow confirmed the importance of having clean water and the how cholera was spread. Chadwick?s definitive role was to convince the government and the public to change their standards of living and yet he did not manage to succeed at that for most of the time. So, compared to the influence that other individuals and discoveries had on improving public health, Chadwick?s work was insignificant. ...read more.

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