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Public health history
  1. V Berridge,
  2. K Loughlin
  1. London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor V Berridge, Health Promotion Research Unit, Department of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK;

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Contested term used to describe compulsive drug taking. First in use to denote a disease requiring psychiatric treatment in the early 20th century, replacing older language of “habit”, “inebriety”, “morphinomania”. Primarily focused on alcohol and drugs initially. Recent discussion of nicotine addiction symbolises ownership by public health as well as by psychiatry.


Community health workers were organised in the countries of the developing world after Alma Ata’s (1978) focus on primary health care (PHC) and WHO’s Health for All by the Year 2000 gave public health a higher profile at the international level. Conceptual and practical confusion between PHC and public health, as in the UK, with tensions between general practitioners (GPs) and public health personnel.


Concept developed by social medicine academics in the UK to provide training in health administration and epidemiology for the effective administration of health services. Critics argued that, when implemented in the 1970s, the loss of the medical officer of health meant that the relationship with the local community was lost. Distinct from community health (see above).


The science of disease in populations. In the 19th century, the epidemiology of infectious disease and vital statistics were central parts of the public health curriculum. After the second world war, epidemiology expanded its remit within public health to include …

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