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Of Medicine and Men

Biographies and Ideas in European Social Medicine between the World Wars

Iris Borowy and Anne Hardy

Social medicine was one of the key health paradigms of the early twentieth century. It perceived public health as a function of social conditions and aimed at improving it through comprehensive, horizontal strategies. Yet, it was no homogeneous or static phenomenon. Depending on time, place and circumstances, it took different, sometimes ideologically contradictory forms. This volume portrays leading medical experts from seven European countries. Their juxtaposition reveals a network of international interaction and shows how different people coped with the crises of the time in different ways, sometimes as part of the scientific mainstream, sometimes as opposition under attack, sometimes in exile. Their biographies reflect an ambivalent interplay of biomedicine, politics and social theory.


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Selskar 'Mike' Gunn and Public Health Reform in Europe (Socrates Litsios)


23 Selskar 'Mike' Gunn and Public Health Reform in Europe Socrates Litsios Introduction Selskar 'Mike' Gunn is the only person included in this volume whose responsibilities were not primarily national in character. Instead, in his capacity as Director of the Rockefeller Foundation's Paris Office ( 1 922- 1 932), he interacted with many, if not all, the 'big names' of this book, and others, to help shape the support provided by the Foundation to national public health systems throughout Europe. This chapter examines Gunn's growing frustration with what he perceived as serious weaknesses in the Foundation's strategy concerning the training of medical doctors in public health, both undergraduate students in medicine and health officers already employed. In documenting Gunn's failure to alter the approach of the Foundation in Europe, I hope to shed more light on issues that are of importance today, in particular the problem of developing a productive relationship between medical interests and those of public health. This history suggests that the Rockefeller Foundation had other options in Europe that might have proved more productive than the ones they chose to follow. Background Concerned with the debilitating impact of hookworm on education, the Rockefeller family established the Rockefeller Sanitary Commission in late 1 909 with Wickliffe Rose, an educator, in charge. In the course of the effort to control this disease in several Southem US States, it became evident to Rose that the Jack of a public health infrastructure prevented the achievement of permanent gains. The best that could...

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