The People's Health: Public Health in Australia, 1950 To the Present.

The People's Health: Public Health in Australia, 1950 To the Present.

The People's Health: Public Health in Australia, 1950 To the Present.

The People's Health: Public Health in Australia, 1950 To the Present.

Synopsis

This second volume on the history of public health in Australia completes the story of the conception and evolution of medicine in the island nation. Whereas volume one details the period from 1788 when Europeans first settled on the east coast of the island until just after World War II, this book carries the story to the end of the twentieth century with the notion of a social view of public health. While health care in the first era was characterized by a focus on disease and mortality patterns very much shaped by communicable diseases, the second period was marked by the need to respond to chronic, degenerative diseases of an aging population, along with emerging infections, in particular HIV/AIDS. Recent years have also seen the emergence of new concerns such as genetically-modified foods and the role of public health in response to bioterrorism.

Themes developed in volume one continue to play a major role in recent health care policy, in particular comparisons with public health in the United Kingdom and the United States. The problematic relationship between public health and clinical medicine and the small resources flowing to public health in comparison to those allocated to curative and rehabilitative services continue to be areas of concern. Many politicians and citizens have yet to come to terms fully with the changes required by thinking of health advancement in terms of the interaction of the biological and social nature of humankind.

Excerpt

What George Rosen saw as the biosocial nature of human beings requires that some area of social activity be devoted to the protection of the public's health. All societies have to arrange ways of dealing with such collective health matters as an adequate supply of quality water and food, cleaning of the physical environment, and control of communicable disease. What ways are pursued will depend, on the one hand, on how the causes of health and disease are understood, and on the other, on the social, economic, political, and cultural (including religious and ideological beliefs) context. in the most general terms, then, the history of public health is the record of the various ways in which the community has acted to deal with inescapable health problems that arise from the biosocial being of humans. These ways have changed with changing knowledge and changes in the social context in which that knowledge has been located.

Modern public health evolved in Western Europe between about the sixteenth and the twentieth centuries, and it came to maturity in the last 150 to two hundred years. Unprecedented economic growth, industrialization and urbanization in a capitalist economic mode created the need for it, as well as the financial and material resources with which to construct it. the history of European settlement in Australia, from its inception in 1788, fits almost exactly into this period of maturation of modern public health in Europe; there was little or no time lag between the development of public health knowledge, practices and institutions in Australia and the development in the heartland of modern public health.

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