Public Health in Great Britain


    IN his annual report for 1936, published last week, Sir Arthur MacNalty, Chief Medical Officer of the Ministry of Health, points out that this year of the Coronation is also the centenary of Queen Victoria's accession, and he takes the opportunity to present an impressive statement of the remarkable progress that has been made in national health and in medicine in the past hundred years and of the amazing decline in mortality rates during that period. For 1936, the crude death-rate was 12middot;1 per 1,000 living, compared with 22·4 in the eighteen forties, the infant mortality rate was 59 as against 153, and the number of infants who died at less than one year of age was 35,425—less than half the number who would have died under conditions of as little as thirty years ago. The standardized death-rate from tuberculosis, respiratory and non-respiratory, was 657 per million living, compared with an average of 3,476 in the fifties of last century. There is an increase in the mortality from cancer, the number of deaths being 66,354, an increase of 1,847 on the previous year, which is a larger increase than that in 1935 over 1934. The maternal mortality rate was 3middot;8 per 1,000 live births, the lowest recorded since 1923. Reference is made to the importance of the consumption of a sufficient quantity of milk, described as "the key to proper nutrition", and commendation is expressed for properly operated milk bars. The report points out the risk of skin affections from the use of certain substances in lip-stick, hair-dye, face cream and other cosmetics, but observes that untoward results are relatively very few. Reference is made, in conclusion, to the national health services, the need for knowledge of these services, and to the intensive national health campaign organized and launched this autumn.

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    Public Health in Great Britain. Nature 140, 927 (1937).

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