Community medicine’s prime concern is to prevent disease. Communal health responsibilities include: controlling housing standards and population density, the disposal of domestic and industrial waste, the maintenance of public hygiene, health screening, the elimination of sources of
disease and infection.
People everywhere need a constant supply of clean water for drinking, cooking, and washing, and also facilities for the removal of sewage waste. Water is collected from natural resources and stored in reservoirs. It is then purified and distributed for public usage. In some countries one or two parts of fluoride per million are added to water, to help prevent tooth decay. Constant checks are carried out at all stages to see that no contamination occurs.
Children, adults, and animals are vaccinated against disease
according to the principle established by the British doctor, Edward Jenner, in 1796. he discovered that people who had been given cowpox were protected against smallpox. Babies are vaccinated against poliomyelitis, and diphtheria and may also be vaccinated against measles and mumps.
Hygienic controls are introduced at all stages of food production. Such controls are obligatory in many countries. To prevent the spread of tuberculosis and brucellosis through daily products, milk is pasteurized by being heated to 72 degrees C. Food-processing factories, hotels, and restaurants are regularly inspected for the presence of rats, mice, and standards of hygiene.
During manufacture, processed foods may be enriched with substances that benefit health, particularly vitamins and minerals. Iron and other minerals are added to bread and cereal foods, and glucose is sometimes added to drinks and candies.
In many countries schoolchildren are tested for tuberculosis. Chest radiography — which may be provided by companies, schools, or local health authorities — is available if necessary to check for tuberculosis, lung cancer, and chronic chest infection.
Women are advised to have regular tests to examine their breasts for lumps. Mothers are encouraged to take their babies and children to clinics at special centers, where their development, weight, and rate of growth are noted in order to identify abnormally slow or fast developers.