There had been some action taken when the cholera epidemic swept Britain because it made the government aware of the consequences of laissez-faire. The government tried to clean up the country and improve public health, but the public didn’t like this. The public wanted the government to stop interfering with their lives and thought they were being forced into different life styles. They thought this because they didn’t know the reason the government was doing this, the public didn’t know for sure what caused cholera and so the first attempt to improve public health failed.
There were many suggestions to what caused cholera but the majority thought that bad air caused cholera. This was of course a mistake but this still made the government try to clean up the country. The public rejected the help given to them and the attempt to prevent cholera when the cholera swept Britain didn’t improve public health much. In the years before 1861 it was very difficult for local government to provide public health facilities.
Most town councils didn’t participate so the government found it difficult to provide clean safe health facilities, the public didn’t accept the help given to them which caused problems and the health board didn’t know for sure what caused the illnesses. They also couldn’t afford to provide the facilities for free and when the government increased taxes, the public didn’t like it. They didn’t know the reason for all the fuss and treated the bad conditions as though it was normal. The mess was so bad in Britain the government couldn’t clean it all up and stop the public from polluting it again.
The people thought the way they were living wasn’t wrong or unhygienic. Until later in the century scientists did not really understand the causes of infectious disease. This meant that they couldn’t come up with a cure for the diseases, which meant that however they tried to improve public health, people would still die of diseases that could not be cured. This is one of the reasons it was impossible for public health to be truly improved. Ordinary people had very little understanding of the importance of basic hygiene with the result that they were more vulnerable to diseases and they didn’t know they could prevent them with easy steps.
If they had understood the importance of basic hygiene the public health in Britain would have improved much more easily and faster. If the people had known sooner that cholera was caused by dirty unsafe drinking water, thousands of lives would’ve been saved. Public health in those days was so bad because of misunderstanding and lack of knowledge. It was difficult for councils to make any real improvements in public health for a number of important reasons. The most significant of these are the attitude towards public health in those days.
Laissez-faire was a big problem in Britain’s public health, before the outbreaks of cholera and reports on how bad Britain’s public health was, the government did not want to interfere with the people’s lives. They thought they wouldn’t need to take care of the population’s lives. The outbreaks of cholera and the reports proved them wrong and the government finally realized that Britain’s public health was a problem. Also, the public wouldn’t accept the help given to them by the health board. They thought the government was being too forceful and bullying. If the attitudes had changed sooner, many lives would have been saved.