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JAMA 100 Years Ago
November 2, 2011

POLITICS AND THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE

JAMA. 2011;306(17):1930. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1560

Recent events have drawn attention forcibly to instances of political meddling with the public health service. Within a year the Ohio State Board of Health, long regarded as one of the ablest and most progressive in the United States, has been demoralized by the influence of partisan politics. First eleven members of the laboratory staff were summarily dismissed, including Dr. B. R. Rickards, chief of the laboratory, a well-known scientific worker and for some years past managing editor of the Journalof the American Public Health Association. More recently Dr. C. O. Probst, secretary of the Ohio board during a long period, has felt that his duty to the state and his regard for his own honor obliged him to resign his position. Dr. Probst has been a figure of national importance in public health affairs, and it is largely his leadership that has given the Ohio Board of Health its well-deserved reputation in the last decade. An effective health organization has now been swept away. All this is due to the fact that the present governor of Ohio saw fit to fill vacancies on the board with representatives of his own political faith, regardless of merit or especial fitness for the official duties. High political ambitions have been blocked for a lesser cause.

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