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Public health in the United States has been one of the most important contributions of organized medicine to the public welfare. When the American Medical Association was organized in 1847 there were no state health departments and few city health departments. In many instances "the local medical societies took an active interest in instituting measures for the protection of their communities against pestilential disease and in some localities attended to this work without any form of health organization" (Rise and Fall of Disease in Illinois).
At the first meeting of the American Medical Association in 1847, matters pertaining to hygiene and sanitation were leading subjects. Even the preliminary meeting in 1846 urged "upon the several state governments the adoption of measures for a registration of births, marriages and deaths." Such vital statistics are an important feature of every modern health department. In 1848 the Committee on Public Hygiene of the
PUBLIC HEALTH AND THE MEDICAL PROFESSION. JAMA. 1940;115(20):1722–1723. doi:10.1001/jama.1940.02810460054015