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. Chadwick was also said to have been argumentative and arrogant; he did not win the favour of many people to get his message across, therefore his reform ideas did not gain much popularity. After some time, the National Board of Health was abolished due to the high costs of public health development and only 50 councils had appointed Medical Officers of Health.

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On the other hand, there were several individuals who made a bigger impact on developing health by going into more detailed research such as William Farr, who used registered birth, marriage and death information to detect where death rates were highest linked with how an individual died. The statistics revealed high death rates occurred in poor living areas and this evidence pressurized local and national governments to make changes.

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 ...

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