Page:Hospitals, medical science and public health.djvu/21

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AND PUBLIC HEALTH

hustle each other with fussy, belated hurrying to and fro after evils have surged to a head, as, for instance, in the calamity of plague in India and in the typhoid disaster in South Africa: calamities no longer mysterious; noonday pestilences concerning which the modern physician had ample foreknowledge. Yet with all this knowledge, and infinitely more parcelled out in the several closets of the older ministries, or submitted to the patronage of selfish and awkward local authorities, generally coarse and inconsistent in their methods and sometimes corrupt, Medicine, as a function of the State, is still working as it were with her left hand. Her scattered official members have no unity; working everywhere piecemeal she has no coordination, no integrated self-consciousness. With no fixed apparatus for concerted action, energy is wasted in overlap, in jostling, in divided purposes, and in anomalies. Although her influence is penetrating into almost every function of society, and directly and indirectly she is spending a great revenue, yet she passes through the councils of the nation veiled and irresponsible. The new ideas which are stirring society are largely medical, yet society does not know where, in the back staircases or garrets of the Local Government Board, of the Home Office, of the Colonial Office, of the Education Office, of the Board of Trade, of the Post Office, of the Registrar-General's department, of the Lunacy Commission, and so forth, each bee buzzing in its own little cage, medicine is to be found; nor how this new solvent and all-pervading influence is to be brought to the book of revenue, or to the bar of public opinion and responsibility.

Our charge.—Let us consider, but for a moment and in outline, the charge of medicine in normal national functions. Abroad, Public Medicine, though still obscured by the taint and clatter of "hygienic" trade advertisements, Public Medicine, to which hereafter private practice will have to play a tributary part, has stretched out its arm beyond the several nations, is transforming the quarantine of man, animals, and plants, and creating a vast and masterful international service. At home, to public medicine is intrusted, in the first quarter of life, the reckoning of births; the protection of infant life and growth; the valuing of each generation by comparison with the past and with normal standards of physiological institution. The new undertaking of medical school inspection, a far-reaching