London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

View report page

Hampstead 1914

Report for the year 1914 of the Medical Officer of Health

This page requires JavaScript

Venereal Diseases.
No attempt has been made in this Report to collate statistics
relating to these diseases from the death returns supplied to me. As I
pointed out in a previous Annual Report, the present system of registration
of death is very largely to blame for the unsatisfactory nature of
much of the information supplied and for the vague and general
indefinite character of the language in which some of the certificates
are couched. How far preventive action in regard to venereal disease
can be undertaken by Sanitary Authorities is a debateable point, but that
the evil is great cannot be denied, although it is not fully recognised
owing to the social convention of silence on the subject. In his last
published Annual Report the Medical Officer of the Local Government
Board states : —
" The serious extent to which syphilis affects the national health is
not generally realised. It is an important cause of arterial
degeneration and of heart disease; the chief, if not the only
cause of locomotor ataxy and general paralysis of the insane,
as well as of various forms of skin and bone diseases."
In November, 1913, a Royal Commission was appointed to inquire
into the prevalence of these diseases, their effects on the general health,
and the means by which those effects can be alleviated or prevented.
This Commission is still sitting, but I feel sure in my own mind that
the Report of the Commission when it is issued will contain some
recommendations of far-reaching character in respect of death certification
for, as I have repeatedly urged, the improvement in death
certification is a sine qua non to any effective action in controlling these
diseases (vide Annual Report, 1912, page 21).