Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/241

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237
THE WORK OF BOARDS OF HEALTH

health associations deserve special credit for good work in arousing the public to the need of better public health work.

At the same time it is regrettable that arguments have been made and movements have been initiated in the name of public health which have had no foundation in fact or scientific principle. The cause of public health has always been a favorite theme alike for the charlatan and the statesman.

By the remarkable advance in that composite body of knowledge known as sanitary science much of the quackery of fraud and the deceptions of ignorance are being dispelled from public health work, and we may confidently look forward to the time when persons who have had adequate training and experience in this direction will be looked upon as the proper sanitary teachers.

In the campaign of sanitary education which is going on it is a deplorable fact that the universities and colleges of the United States are singularly backward. With a few notable exceptions, there is scarcely a school for higher education in the United States where a competent knowledge of hygiene can be obtained. In spite of the fact that man} of the largest and most prominent universities have had severe experiences with typhoid they have been exceedingly slow in providing proper facilities for the teaching of hygiene. One of the greatest needs of to-day is the want of competent teaching for health officers, physicians, engineers and others, who may wish to obtain a complete and practical knowledge of their profession. In the absence of suitable facilities for the education of health officers the United States is decidedly behind European countries.

In the management of communicable diseases the principles of isolation, disinfection and vaccination, have been referred to. It remains to mention the help that may be afforded by the establishment of laboratories for the diagnosis of suspected cases of communicable diseases. Laboratories where examinations may be made of sputum, blood, urine, stools and other pathological specimens, are one of the newest developments in public health work, but they have been in operation sufficiently long to make them seem indispensable. By their means early and obscure cases of tuberculosis, typhoid fever, diphtheria and other too common preventable diseases may be discovered, and with a precision and promptness generally impossible in private medical practise. Along with pathological work of municipal public health laboratories facilities are often provided for the analysis of water, milk, food and drugs. Any citizen may send specimens to these laboratories for examination, and is entitled to a report without charge.

Every board of health should have the benefit of laboratory assistance of this kind. Municipal boards in large cities can afford to maintain them, but for the small city and village other provision must