Starting in World War II, DDT was used as insecticide to combat insect vectors carrying malaria, which was endemic in most tropical regions of the world. The first goal was to protect soldiers, but it was widely adopted as a public health device. In Liberia, for example, the United States had large military operations during the war and the U.S. Public Health Service began the use of DDT for indoor residual spraying (IRS) and as a larvicide, with the goal of controlling malaria in Monrovia, the Liberian capital. In the early 1950s, the project was expanded to nearby villages. In 1953, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched an antimalaria program in parts of Liberia as a pilot project to determine the feasibility of malaria eradication in tropical Africa. However these projects encountered a spate of difficulties that foreshadowed the general retreat from malaria eradication efforts across tropical Africa by the mid-1960s.
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Maintaining a comfortable state of health is a goal shared by much of the world’s population past and present, thus the history of health and medicine weaves a thread connecting us with our ancestors’ human experiences. Yet it’s easy to assume that studying it involves either celebrating the ‘eureka moments’ of well-known heroes or laughing at outdated therapies. But, as I set out to show in my book, The History of Medicine in 100 Facts (Amberley Publishing, 2015), medicine’s past features plenty of lesser-known but equally fascinating episodes…
1950s: A series of successful anti-psychotic drugs are introduced that do not cure psychosis but control its symptoms. The first of the anti-psychotics, the major class of drug used to treat psychosis, is discovered in France in 1952 and is named chlorpromazine (Thorazine). Studies show that 70 percent of patients with schizophrenia clearly improve on anti-psychotic drugs.
On June 1, 2018 a symposium, 100 Years of Women at Yale School of Medicine, commemorated the 100-year anniversary of women at YSM. This daylong event, open to all faculty, students, staff, alumni, and clinicians in the community, was sponsored by the Committee on the Status of Women in Medicine (SWIM), the Minority Organization for Retention & Expansion (MORE), and the Dean’s Office. This event celebrated the contributions of women faculty and alumni from the School of Medicine. The symposium featured speakers, including Naomi Rogers, PhD, Professor in the History of Medicine and of History who discussed the challenges for women in their fields, as well as those encountered on the pathway to finding work-life balance.
The Byzantine Empire's neighbors, the Persian Sassanid Empire, also made their noteworthy contributions mainly with the establishment of the Academy of Gondeshapur, which was "the most important medical center of the ancient world during the 6th and 7th centuries." In addition, Cyril Elgood, British physician and a historian of medicine in Persia, commented that thanks to medical centers like the Academy of Gondeshapur, "to a very large extent, the credit for the whole hospital system must be given to Persia."
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Another great surgeon was Ambroise Pare. In the 16th century surgeons put oil on wounds. However in 1536 during the siege of Turin Pare ran out of oil. He made a mixture of egg whites, rose oil and turpentine and discovered it worked better than oil. Pare also designed artificial limbs. In 1513 a man named Eucharius Roslin published a book about childbirth called Rosengarten. In 1540 an English translation called The Birth of Mankind was published. It became a standard text although midwives were women.
When the medicine of ancient Egypt is examined, the picture becomes clearer. The first physician to emerge is Imhotep, chief minister to King Djoser in the 3rd millennium bce, who designed one of the earliest pyramids, the Step Pyramid at Ṣaqqārah, and who was later regarded as the Egyptian god of medicine and identified with the Greek god Asclepius. Surer knowledge comes from the study of Egyptian papyri, especially the Ebers papyrus and Edwin Smith papyrus discovered in the 19th century. The former is a list of remedies, with appropriate spells or incantations, while the latter is a surgical treatise on the treatment of wounds and other injuries.
During the 18th century medicine made slow progress. Doctors still did not know what caused disease. Some continued to believe in the four humors (although this theory declined during the 18th century). Other doctors thought disease was caused by 'miasmas' (odorless gases in the air). However surgery did make some progress. The famous 18th century surgeon John Hunter (1728-1793) is sometimes called the Father of Modern Surgery. He invented new procedures such as tracheotomy.
Elites and the popular classes alike called on divine intervention in personal and society-wide health crises, such as the epidemic of 1737. The intervention of the Virgin of Guadalupe was depicted in a scene of dead and dying Indians, with elites on their knees praying for her aid. In the late eighteenth century, the crown began implementing secularizing policies on the Iberian peninsula and its overseas empire to control disease more systematically and scientifically.
I ended up selling the practice to my partner and taking a 20-month sabbatical due to a motor vehicle accident. I had considered retiring after selling the practice, but in the area where I live there are very few people practicing this style of medicine and the need far exceeds the number of people who have the skills or knowledge. During the time I was not working, I had many former patients contacting me and wanting to know when I was going to open a new practice.