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

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Walthamstow 1962

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Walthamstow]

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Table II gives the incidence and deaths from notifiable infectious diseases in 1921:-


Scarlet Pever9835
Puerperal Pever53
Pneumonia (number notified)4988 (actual)

Dr. Clarke commented:-
" Thirty per cent of those dying from tuberculosis have
not been notified as suffering from the disease during
their life-time, and death followed within three months of
notification of 11 per cent"
'The Public Health administration as applied to
tuberculosis is lame and halting and unsatisfactory"
"Some years ago I made an effort to have the homes
disinfected when vacated by Phthisical patients
Such a procedure was declared by the Local Government
Board as ultra vires, and a breach of faith as to the
secrecy which was supposed to be attached to every
With a case mortality ratio of over 50 per cent for tuberculosis
it is easy to appreciate Dr. Clarke's feelings and also why
tuberculosis used to be known as " the Captain of the Men of Death".
The deaths from all causes in 1921 totalled 1,237 and 231 or
under l/5th occurred in children under 5 compared with more than
twice this number ten years earlier.
Most striking was the fall in the number of deaths from
diarrhoea and enteritis, from 130 in 1911 to only 45. This, and the
reduction of over 40 per cent in the Infant Mortality Rate emphasises
the value of the work carried out at the Council's Infant Welfare
Clinic at Truro Hall and at the "Brookscroft Voluntary Centre" in
implementing the provisions of the Maternity and Child Welfare Act of
1918. Over 19, 000 attendances were made during the year, divided
almost equally between the two centres. Nearly 3,000 domiciliary
visits were made by nursing staff from Brookscroft and classes in
Mothercraft. Infant Care and Needlework were well attended.
Already a more modern picture is emerging, but it was by no means
uniform school medical inspections disclosed one school where 6.7
Per cent of the children had active lice and 25 per cent had nits