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

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West Ham 1948

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for West Ham]

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by modem methods of treatment, come to mind. However, it may be too sanguine to hope that
the improvement, suggested by these figures, will continue. There is still enough immigration
into this country, and the waywardness of human nature, to maintain a considerable reservoir
of Infection. The various forms of propaganda, such as posters, films, lectures, and so
forth, are unlikely to exert much restraint on those bent on illicit intercourse, especially
as they have so often been made entirely reckless by previous indulgence nn alcohol. It may
be remarked here that the vast majority of patients, who have taken a risk, admit to have
been under the influence of alcohol at the time. On the other hand, there is evidence that
such persons, having taken such a risk, are consciously or subconsciously influenced by
propaganda to attend a clinic as soon as they feel that something may be wrong.
It is a matter for regret that little can be achieved by urging continence. Moral
and religious considerations have little appeal to those whose upbringing has been largely
devoid of such aids to good behaviour. It is felt that the most suitable angle of approach
is to make the public aware of the physical signs which may indicate venereal disease, to
point out the dangers of neglect, and to advertise freely the centres at which the best advice
is available. This step has already been carried out on a nation wide scale, but it is
mentioned in this report as an appreciation of what has been done.
With regard to the reliability of personal disinfection, there is evidence that
adequate cleansing immediately after a risk has been taken (not longer than an hour should
elapse) is effective, but it should be realised that success cannot be guaranteed.
One's impression is that the written word is more effective than the spoken word® Lectures
and informal talks do not appear to draw those for whom they are intended. They seem more to
attract the prurient and the hypochondriac. The most responsive person is probably the patient
him-or herself. This may appear rather like "locking the stable after the horse has bolted,
but many patients are prepared to co-operate, and much may be achieved in rendering them quickly
noncontagious, and by advising them on the possibilities of lessening the risk of future
infections in the case of those obviously unwilling or unable to lead continent lives.
The treatment of venereal diseases is one of the services which passed to the Regional
Hospital Board under the National Health Service Act, 1946.

Particulars are given below of samples of raw designated milks which were taken during the year and submitted to the appropriate tests.

Type of MilkNumber sampledNumber satisfactoryNumber unsatisfactoryFailed MethyleneContained Coliform bacillusFailed Methylene Blue test and contained Coliform bacillus
*Tuberculin Tested (Certified)*685810325
match: ALTO ComposedBlock
..\25 March 2013\Folder 14\b19881526\Tables\b19881526_0013_011_006.xml

In all cases of samples failing to comply with the Regulations, letters of caution were
sent and further samples taken proved satisfactory.

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