Florence Nightingale v. epidemics

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In the 1800s a global pandemic broke out because people were moving to unhealthy and overcrowded cities for better wages in factories. Liverpool’s population grew so fast that by 1842 average life expectancy there had fallen to only 26 years.

Britain, at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution, tried to find ways to control the pandemic that was disrupting its economy. Government efforts came to nothing until Florence Nightingale returned from the Crimean War in 1856. After 15 years of political campaigning, supported by Edwin Chadwick and William Farr against the opposition of the medical authorities, Parliament enacted her public health legislation. As a direct result, death rates fell sharply.

This book explains why ignorance of the Victorian public health breakthrough is costing lives today, including from Covid-19. It contains two of the author’s articles published in 2020 in scientific journals, and identifies the knowledge we have lost.

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