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JAMA 100 Years Ago
October 3, 2012


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2012;308(13):1302. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.3240

Current Comment

The hygienic exhibit made in connection with the International Congress on Hygiene and Demography at Washington was one of unusual interest and suggestiveness to the thoughtful observer. Probably never before has it been made so apparent that the control and suppression of preventable diseases is becoming more and more a social rather than a scientific problem.

In former generations, the relations between physician and patient were almost entirely individual. Only with the development of modern medicine has either the individual physician or the combined profession attained a distinct social function and responsibility. In former generations, owing to meager knowledge of diseases and their causes, the social responsibility for a large share of humanity's ills was not recognized. To-day, as soon as science discovers the cause of a disease, its method of transmission and the means for its prevention, the disease ceases to be a problem from a scientific point of view. It then becomes an additional social responsibility, since, in the majority of cases, our recently acquired knowledge shows that preventable diseases exist largely because of social sins, and that their prevention involves the reformation of some long-standing evil.

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