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Article
May 30, 1903

WHAT IS THE PROPER FUNCTION OF PUBLIC BOARDS OF HEALTH?

JAMA. 1903;XL(22):1511. doi:10.1001/jama.1903.02490220035003

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Abstract

This question may well be raised at the present time, when it appears that health officials hold widely divergent views as to the proper scope of their activities. We take it that no physician will care to contend that the function of such boards is in any degree concerned with the health or well-being of any political party, although occasionally the solicitude of such a board for the success of the dominant party or its eagerness to oblige party leaders might suggest another view.

Setting aside, then, the always sinister influence of politics on the work of such a body, for what should a department of health stand? First, we must take for granted its strictly preventive functions. It must enforce vaccination and quarantines. It must abate nuisances. It must vigorously enforce the health laws and ordinances. But this is only a beginning. If it is the function of such

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