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Improvements in Public Health

Health and the People>Improvements in Public Health

Find out about cholera epidemics and other public health problems faced by Britain during the industrial revolution, then examine the role played by key individuals and the government in tackling these problems.

  • What was Public Health like in 19th Century Britain?
  • Cholera Epidemics
  • John Snow
  • Government Intervention
  • Sources
  • Play: How do you die of Cholera?



Initially, the government held back developments in public health due to their laissez-faire approach. Due to the cholera epidemics and a growth in understanding of the science behind the spread of disease this changed in the second half of the 19th century. Now government could enforce changes through the Public Health Act and Artisan’s Dwelling Act of 1875. They could also initiate major changes like the building of the London sewers.

Science & Technology

Pasteur’s germ theory, first published in 1861 meant that for the first time there was scientific proof on how disease was spread. This research, along with the findings of Snow and Chadwick meant that governments were forced to intervene to improve the public health of its people.

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