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Community sanitation, living longer

Community sanitation

Community sanitation

The really big jump in life expectancy started in the 1860's.  This is off-course a pretty Euro-centric  postulation.  But as is often said, you cannot manage if you don't measure.  And measuring is a very left brain, scientific pastime.  Community sanitation, living longer.  The observation was not in any way clear at the time.  The upward trend in life expectancy only became clear many years later.  For countless years, humans have managed to live fairly long - if they survived childhood.  Before the discovery and effective harnessing of anti-biotics,  death by infection far outstripped any other grim contender.  And it was only in the latter half of the Victorian century that medical practitioners, from physicians to mid-wives took serious cognisance of personal hygiene.  Keeping a clean house and clean hands in the hospital was, prior to 1876, almost unheard of.  Surgeons would rank their success and experience on a peer reviewed blood gown stain index.

Community sanitation living longer?

Indications are that it does.   With the benefit of systematic record keeping, it is as clear as day, that sanitation saves lives.  Anecdotally,  the largest cause of death during the Anglo-boer was was due to sanitation (or lack of sanitation) issues.  The same can be attributed to the Crimean war, the American war of independence and probably a long list of others.  Returning to sanitation.  Our understanding here was kicked started by the works of a Joseph Lister.  His name lives on in the Listerine brand, Listermint and Mount Lister.  Lister made his mark by asserting that germs, what we now call bacteria, transmitted disease and caused infection.  His simple and masterful hypothesis was "keep the germs away, keep infection at bay".   These were not his exact words, but the gist holds true. And in summary, large army war statistics showed high death tolls attributable to disease and infection.  Curbing infection at the hospital and in the operating theaters - in large part due to the pioneering work of Joseph Lister - was due to regular hygiene regulations.  On a grander scale and with no sung hero or advocate, the general tidy up and  speedy removal of slops from cities has resulted in reduced deaths from water borne diseases.  

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