JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.
The conclusions relative to the checking of epidemic diseases drawn by Health Commissioner Evans in a recent number of the Chicago Weekly Health Bulletins are as scientific as they are sensible and sententious. They resolve themselves into the following propositions:
Evil doing that is based solely on ignorance, among persons naturally disposed to good as they see it, can be obviated permanently only when control is accompanied and tempered by education. On the other hand, when ignorance is grafted on a selfish indifference to the well-being of others, the enlightenment of the ignorant will not overcome the evil doing, save under compulsion of the “mailed hand.” Education, therefore, is necessary to remove non-malevolence and to give that moral backing on which alone the force of law can depend. Control is essential, even in the case of the naturally well disposed, to give time for education to get in its work as well as to deal with those who are amenable to control alone. In those things that are for the common safety, therefore, we must have good laws and a competent and conscientious health board to administer them. With these in control, neither plague nor any other epidemic scourge can ever again in a civilized community attain to the devastating proportions it has reached in the past.
THE CHECKING OF EPIDEMIC DISEASES.. JAMA. 2008;300(5):593. doi:10.1001/jama.300.5.593-b