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

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Shoreditch 1931

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Shoreditch]

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We arrived at Rotterdam on 23rd May and drove to the Hague, our first
place of call. Later, we were officially received by Representatives of the
Ministry of Labour. Reception, and explanatory address on the Tour by
Doctor Jitta.
During the four days at the Hague, the following places were visited :
On Sunday, 24th May, we visited a Children's Sanatorium at Haarlem
and Zandoort.
On Monday, visits were paid to an Open-Air School for children (aged
1—6 years) run by the Green Cross Society. Children whose parents live
in barges on the canal, or in bad tenements, suffering from rickets, minor ailments,
etc., are sent here for a period of 6—8 weeks. An examination by a
doctor employed by the State is held weekly. The cost per child was 5s. a
week. If the parents are earning, they pay 10 per cent of their wages, the
remainder is paid by the State. The children are taken by ambulance morning
and afternoon to the school which was situated in a very healthy part
of the country.
Later, we visited the University Hospital at Leiden, and inspected their
clinics and laboratories. At Wassenaar, we visited a very large Ante-Natal
On Wednesday, we moved on to Amsterdam (750,000 inhabitants) where
we stayed for three days. Here, we attended a reception by Dr. Heyermans,
Chief Medical Officer to the City Council, at the City Hall, a very extensive
building with many laboratories. All the Public Health Staff worked at this
Hall, consisting of 120 doctors, 250 nurses, 28 tuberculosis nurses, and many
social workers. Here the Medical Officer of Health travelled with us for
two days, showing us places of interest;.—an Open-Air School, a Tuberculosis
Hospital—the only one of its kind in Holland where there are 560
beds; Annette Home for unmarried mothers; Port Quarantine Station and
Hospital for Migrants; the Old Housing Estate, New Housing Estate, Slum
Clearance Area, and three Infant Welfare Centres.
We were very interested in the new Housing Estate, containing new flats
for 70,000 people built in the last five years, and all fitted with electric light
and central heating. Open-air baths, library and gymnasium school
are provided. For each block of flats there was appointed by the State a woman
superintendent who paid daily visits to the home re cleanliness, attendance
of infants at the Welfare Centres, etc. She also held evening classes on
Domestic Economy for the women and girls. Classes were also held in order
to teach mothers and young girls without nursing education, to assist the
young lying-in mother. The doctor informed us that these were a great
success and well attended.
At the Slum Clearance Area, we learned that all the furniture, bed and
bedding, etc. was inspected and stoved before it was removed, and the
Sanitary Inspector recommended the people to be temporarily accommodated
in cottages for six months and satisfaction given before being transferred to
a new Council house.