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The history and development of public health in developed countries 

The history and development of public health in developed countries
The history and development of public health in developed countries

Christopher Hamlin

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date: 05 July 2022

This chapter explores the problem of defining the proper domain of public health as a science and department of public action. It examines three elements of public health, which have been important in its past in the developed world: the response to epidemics, the policing of towns (and states) in ordinary times, and efforts to produce a systematic betterment of population health. The chapter also argues that a ‘golden age’ from 1880 to 1970, when public health rationales were relatively unquestioned, has given way to a new era of complexity: the agenda of public health is less clear and there has been renewed fundamental debate on such ancient issues as how to understand cause as well as on what kinds of changes are possible and warranted.

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