This lecture delivered by Professor Virginia Berridge will consider the wider significance of the College’s role in the reorientation of public health and how lifestyle choices started to make an impact on mortality.
6pm - Arrival refreshments (tea and coffee)
6.30pm - Lecture starts
7.30pm - Lecture finishes
Public health had been a matter of sewage and drains ,concentrated in the nineteenth century, on the fight against epidemic diseases such as cholera and typhoid. But after the Second World War the significance of epidemics declined and chronic non infectious diseases began to take higher precedence as causes of mortality and morbidity. Public health reoriented towards diseases of lifestyle, a new word which became part of public discussion from the 1950s and 1960s. The discovery of the relationship between smoking and lung cancer was one of the first indications of this new focus for public health. The Royal College of Physicians played a crucial role early on in bringing this relationship to public attention through its initial and subsequent reports about smoking and health. These reports were significant for many reasons, not least for repositioning the Royal College in relation to public discussion of health matters and for the way in which doctors, the public and the media interacted.
Virginia Berridge is Professor of History at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Her research interests are in recent public health history and specifically the policy history of illicit drugs, smoking and alcohol, as well as HIV/AIDS. She has investigated the relationship between evidence and policy and its history and specifically examined the role of history in policy making.
Her most recent book is Public Health : A Very Short History (Oxford University Press,2016) https://global.oup.com/academic/product/public-health-a-very-short-introduction-9780199688463?cc=gb&lang=en&
and she has also written, among other books, Demons .Our changing attitudes to alcohol, tobacco and drugs (Oxford UP,2013) https://global.oup.com/academic/product/demons-9780199604982?lang=en&cc=gb
and Marketing Health. Smoking and the Discourse of Public Health in Britain,1945-2000(Oxford UP, 2007). https://global.oup.com/academic/product/marketing-health-9780199260300?cc=gb&lang=en&
Virginia is an honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians.