eDWIN cHADWICK AND tHE public health system
What part did Edwin Chadwick play in bringing about changes in public Health Provision? Edwin Chadwick was born in Manchester on 24th January 1800. His father encouraged him to read books by radicals such as Tom Paine. Chadwick went to London to study Law but his personal finances were limited. He made money by writing essays for publications such as the ‘Westminster Review’. Despite his training in Law, his essays were usually on scientific principles and how they could be applied in democratic government. His essays attracted the attention of Jeremy Bentham who employed Chadwick as his literary assistant and left him a large sum of money in his will. Edwin Chadwick is most associated with public health improvements during the era of Queen Victoria. He used his position to persuade the government to invest in public health ventures. He was interested in the political and social reform and was one of the most important health activists. The first appearance of cholera in 1831, was followed in 1837 and 1838 by epidemics of influenza and typhoid, prompting the government to ask Chadwick to carry out a new enquiry into sanitation. In his publication The Sanitary Conditions of the Labouring Population (1842), Chadwick used quantitative methods to show that there was a direct link between poor living conditions and disease and life expectancy. This investigation inspired the Public Health Act of 1848 and the establishment of the general Board of Health, of which Chadwick was the first director of the 1800s. He believed in using science as a means for social improvement and in 1832 he was asked to serve on the royal commission to investigate the effectiveness of the Poor Laws. He was asked to compose a large chunk for the final report; the final report was critical of the old Poor Law system and it recommended major changes. The new Poor Law Amendment Act did not go as far as Chadwick would have liked but it did set up a...
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