There are many factors that have helped or hindered public health from the Romans to the 1900s, such as war, government, key individuals and such. The primary factor which has improved public health is the government, as they are in charge for their country or empire, and they can pass laws which would make locations cleaner and healthier. One example of this is the Roman Empire, which believed prevention was better than curing, so they built various baths and aqueducts for the public to freely bath in and have fresh water, so they would not catch or spread diseases and cures would not be needed, as they did not have them anyway.
Also, the Roman government created sewers and clean toilets around their empire, even in remote places such as Hadrian’s Wall, showing how much they cared for public health. The Romans made large improvements and progression to public health; however, the Mongolians invaded and destroyed most of the Roman Empire, leaving little remnants of the Romans system. Another example of the government progressing public health are the public health acts of 1848, which was not compulsory, and 1875, which was.
These meant that local authorities had to clean up and improve their town or city, by providing fresh water, proper drainage and such, as diseases, such as cholera, were particularly dangerous. This improved public health as every town or city was to be cleaner and disease was less likely to be spread, so cures and such were not needed, costing more expenditure. Another factor which improved and however, regressed public health is war.
The main reason that the Romans provided such substantial public health measures is because they believed prevention was better than disease. They achieved this idea through their army, as they realised that if their empire was under attack, the army would have to fend it off and if they were all ill, it would be a disaster, therefore, war had improved their idea of public health and how important it is.
Although, due to the Mongolian destruction of the Empire, all public health measures and systems that the Romans had were destroyed due to war, which is why public health has regressed due to it, as it destroys various infrastructures and such. Another example of war progressing public health is the Boer War. The government saw how malnourished all of the recruits were, so they produced new laws and such that allowed free school meals and other methods of nourishment.
Another reason why war progressed public health was during the Second World War, the British decided they would need some kind of scheme to help and heal wounded soldiers, as they expected to have a lot of casualties. The eventuality and outcome was the National Health Service (NHS), which was a scheme that would provide the British public with free hospitals, surgery and care – this was an impressive improvement on public health as anyone could be treated and kept free of disease, with methods such as vaccination and such, meaning public health was a lot stronger.
Such reforms as these came around with the work of brilliant-minded individuals such as John Snow and Edwin Chadwick, who did thorough research of conditions of many classes of society, which enabled them to persuade the government to enforce various laws and acts. Without these key individuals, public health may not be as strong as they are today. Overall, public health has mainly progressed; however, there have been various periods of regression due to many factors which affect the situation.