Health Boards (Earliest Origins and History)

The Beginnings:
  • The earliest health boards (or special magistracies) appeared during the time of the Black Death (1348).
  • They were set up to help coordinate the treatment and control of the plague which was especially devastating southern European cities.
  • They were initially temporary emergency councils, and hence disbanded as the threat from the Black Death subsided.
Initial Locations (1348):
  • Florence
  • Pistoia
  • Venice
Permanent Health Boards:
  • Did not appear in Italy until around the mid-fifteenth century.
  • The city of Milan led the way with securing this valuable public body.
  • Permanent health boards then subsequently developed in Palermo and Turin (1576).
  • Interestingly, these early boards were composed mainly of notaries & beaurocrats from outside the medical profession.
Health Boards & Bubonic Plague Control (1575-1578):
  • The plague crisis of 1575–1578 had a major impact on public health and medical history.
  • The first attempts were now being made, through detailed health-board statistics, to track the progress of diseases such as bubonic plague.
  • Doctors also now understood the importance of engaging in politics & instructing princes & beaurocrats on public health.
  • With the new more extensive health-board records, plague writers also looked at new forms of plague writing - now including personal trauma, pathos, dark comedy, and lessons into the narratives they spun.
  • Plague death counts were now not the only important records that were kept.
  • Some of the later masterpieces of plague literature can be traced to influences from this time, including Camus & Defoe.
Early Health Board Functions:
  • Clinical issues:
    • Imposition of quarantine.
    • Place sick in isolation hospitals.
    • Compile lists of the dead.
    • Order autopsies.
  • Environmental issues:
    • Clean the streets.
    • Clear the waterways.
    • Ban goods from entering or leaving an area.
  • Legal issues:
    • Medical inquests.
    • Powers of punishment (which could be draconian).
    • Development of wide reaching information networks.

Image Credit - by mod as hell (cc)

Posted by ALCHEssMIST.
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