Several factors have helped bring about progress in medicine. In this essay, I will be discussing these factors. Firstly, I will be discussing how the government has helped to bring about progress in medicine. I will do this by giving an example and explaining. One good example is the measures taken by the government in Britain from the year 1900 to the year 1945. In total, there were nine acts and campaigns to improve health in Britain. This improved conditions in Britain and as a result, the death rate from illnesses and diseases decreased dramatically. Here is a table showing what the government did to improve medicine in Britain.
1902 Midwives Act, compulsory training and setting of standards. 1906 Education (Provision of Meals) Act, local authorities allowed to provide meals in elementary schools. 1907 Notification of Births Act, so that health visitors could be sure they visited all new babies. 1907 Education (Administrative Provision) Act, medical services provided for children at school. 1911 National Insurance Act, free medical treatment for workers who paid a contribution, but not their families. 1918 Maternal and child welfare Act, allowed local authorities to provide free clinics from pregnant woman and infants.
1930 Housing Act, slum clearance undertaken. 1940 Diphtheria immunisation campaign. 1940s Funding for the development of penicillin. War has helped and hindered progress in medicine in many ways. Medical help is needed mostly in wartime. In all wars soldiers were wounded – this opened the possibilities for more progress in medicine. The best example is the progress made in the First World War, many things in medicine were improved because of the Great War. WWI was a massive worldwide conflict, more people died in it than in any other war before it.
This was a result of new and deadly weapons being used for the first time. The most important breakthrough was through surgery, I will be discussing this later on in the essay. Many powerful guns and weapons were used – this caused more severe wounds. In addition, more people were wounded – this gave doctors and surgeons more opportunity to experiment with new techniques. Blood transfusion was very effectively improved, the storage and the transportation. Many recruits in the army had low standards of health. This made the government worry more and it also made them more eager to improve health care back home.
The soldiers who fought in the war were promised good housing when they returned – as a reward. This speeded up the process of getting rid of unhealthy slums in Britain. The soldiers, however, were never given these houses so they were in a way tricked into joining the army. In some ways, the First World War hindered the development of surgical techniques. It stopped a great deal of medical research. However, the war helped more than hindered. During the conflict surgeons did their best for the wounded but their methods, which worked well in a clean hospital operating theatre, were not so effective on a dirty battlefield.
They had to develop new techniques to deal with the problems. Some of these techniques had an impact on surgery in civilian hospitals after the war. There were three main improvements in surgery, X-Rays, Blood transfusion and fighting infection. X-Rays were invented before the war but during the war, X-Rays were used for the first time. The X-Ray machine improved the success rate of surgeons in removing deeply lodged bullets and shrapnels, which would otherwise cause fatal infection. Blood transfusion had been used since the 1800s, but mysteriously it only worked sometimes.
During WW1, scientists discovered that there were different blood groups and that the patient only recovered if he were given a blood transfusion with the same blood group as his own. This was an important discovery, which saved many lives. Finally, infected wounds, this was a real problem as most soldiers with wounds died from infection. During WW1, fighting infection was improved slightly. Surgeons cut away infected tissues and soaked the wound with a saline solution. War hindered progress in medicine in the following ways: – Bullet wounds caused infection and powerful guns caused sever wounds, which not all doctors could cure.
Millions of soldiers were killed and war stopped medical research – doctors were taken away from their normal work to help the wounded in the war. I agree with the statement: ‘chance by itself has never brought about progress in medicine’. This is evident with Pasteur’s discovery of a vaccine for chicken cholera. One of Pasteur’s scientists injected a chicken with cholera; the scientist was confused because next day the chicken was not dead. Pasteur then asked him which cholera did he use, the scientist found out that the cholera he used was old and that it had been exposed to the air for a long time.
They then injected the chicken with some fresh germs and they didn’t work on the animal either. Pasteur decided the fresh germs were faulty he decided to try the fresh germs on different chickens. He found out there was nothing wrong with the fresh germs. Pasteur had found another vaccination. The old germs had protected the first group of chickens just like Jenner’s vaccine. Chance by itself has never brought about progress in medicine but it did play a big part in medicine but without the geniuses like Pasteur we may never have found out treatments and cures for deadly diseases.