Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/243

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239
THE WORK OF BOARDS OF HEALTH

kind of understanding is indispensable between neighboring states for some forms of sanitary control, such, for example, as the purity of water supplies, the management of epidemics and the regulation of milk and other food products. Likewise the management of quarantine, a subject of importance to large portions of the population of the nation, should not be left to the regulation of any particular locality, but should be managed in accordance with laws which are general for the common welfare.

First and foremost among the defects and needs of public health administration must be placed the want of adequate knowledge of the principles and practises of public health work on the part of officials having jurisdiction. It is a deplorable fact that special professional qualifications are not as a rule required of health officers in the United States,

If there is any department of municipal government which should be taken out of politics and put upon a high plane of professional efficiency, it is public health work. Generally, in the United States, appointment upon a health board means a thankless and gratuitous service performed for the sake of the small honor which is supposed to go with it. Where a salary is connected with the position the office is too often a reward of political rather than professional merit.

Until the need of high-class health work is demanded, appreciated and properly rewarded by compensation in money and honor, men will not be prepared by the schools for a life-work in the public health service, and the most needed improvement in the work of boards of health will not be made.