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the duties imposed by the Public Statutes in the Cattle Commission department; and such other questions, having sanitary relations, as from time to time seemed to require attention.
The work of the secretary has been almost wholly within the lines above indicated. But notwithstanding the present advanced sanitary sentiment in many localities, the question is occasionally asked : “ What is the good of all this oversight and sanitary administration?” Let us see. I quote the Registrar-General of England. “He points out that, according to the newest English life table, the children born in England in any one year have now divided among them
nearly two million years of life’ more than would have been the case thirty-five years ago. In England and Wales the annual mortality per 1,000,000 of population has been as follows : In 1861-7, 22,595 ; in 1866-70, 22,436 ; in 1871-5, 21,975 ; in 1876-80, 20,817; and in 1881-5, 19,310. Comparing the first period and the last, the difference is 3,285 per 1,000,000, and taking the population at 30,000,000, the total annual saving is about 100,000 lives. And if for every death there are twenty cases of sickness, then we have 2,000,000 less cases of sickness than in the first period. Interesting calculations have been often made on this subject, and especially by that father of sanitation, Mr. Edwin Chadwick, who, happily, is still with us, a witness of the greatness of the success that has attended his life's work. You can count the cost of each case of sickness, of lost work, of doctors' bills, and so on, and also the monetary value of each of the 100,000 lives saved. And you can put all this as income against the interest on the money spent in sanitary improvements-in water works, sewerage works, vaccination grants, officials salaries, etc. And even on this lowest ground-on this merely commercial basis—we find that cleanliness, which is next to godliness, resembles godliness itself in being 'great gain:' But we can take a vastly higher standpoint. We also are laborers in the great field of moral reform. In this field there are many groups employed, each pursuing its own line, and each-ay, even the sanitarian-possibly apt to attach too much importance to his own particular department. The teetotaller holds that if intemperance were driven out of the land, then would follow education, cleanliness and religion. And, doubtless he is right. The educationist holds that if man's intellect were duly trained it would lead him to avoid alcohol, to avoid dirt, and to avoid immorality! Doubtless be too is right. The religionist holds that if man can be taught his duty to his God, he will do it also to himself and to his fellow-man, and that education, cleanliness, and temperance will be the fruits of his religion. Again I say, doubtless he is right. And the sanitarian holds that if a man is provided with pure air, good food, and healthy exercise, he will then be in a bodily condition, which will produce no craving for the stimulus of alcohol, which will open his intellect to all the influences of education, and which will make him better able to receive and to appreciate the truths of religion. For, throughout our life, all good things are woven together, and thus it comes that the prosaic and ofttimes unattractive work of the sanitarian has in it an abounding helpfulness that overflows into every corner of man's being, and makes for his intellectual and his moral as well as for his physical welfare."
SANITARY INSPECTION OF TOWNS.
The secretary personally made sanitary inspections of the hotels and larger boarding houses in all the shore towns where such inspections were requested by the health officers of the same, reports of which have been made to the Board. He had also visited several other towns during the warm season, inspecting nuisances suspected of being dangerous to health, either in company with the health officer or alone, giving advice in relation to methods of abatement when necessary; had traversed numerous villages, large and small, in the State, inspecting the quality of the water in most general use, and the sources of supply; the drainage of the houses and disposal of night soil and other organic filth. Suggestions as to urgently needed changes were made to individuals, corporations or town authorities, as the circumstances seemed to require. In most instances the suggestions were kindly received and in a large number were fully, or to a considerable extent, carried out, not unfrequently under the supervision of the town health officer. Occasionally a report to the town council was required and peremptory orders issued.
The statement that a pure water supply, or a supply of water uncontaminated with any deleterious material, is absolutely essential to the preservation of health, will not be contradicted. It is a fact however to be deplored, that so large a proportion (though much less than a few years ago) of the water used for domestic purposes and especially for drinking, is not free from impure constituents. There is, however, a very general, earnest and gratifying inquiry as to the means of procnring good water on the part of the citizens of the State, and the report upon the water works in the State, on subsequent pages, will be a source of information to many.
The questions of public and private plans and systems of sewerage are largely and necessarily occupying public attention. The city of Providence (although in possession of a limited and temporary system that has been of inestimable value) began during the last part of the year, the construction of a very elaborate and complete system with disposal by precipitation.
The design is, that by extensions as needed, it will take care of the sewage of a population of 300,000 or perhaps 400,000.
Other cities, and some of the larger towns, have temporary systems and some are agitating systems more complete.
DISPOSAL OF GARBAGE, ETC. The frequent removal of garbage, including swill and other house refuse from the premises when accumulating in the cities and many of the compact villages, is provided for by municipal ordinances. The disposition of such material varies in the different localities. It has been fed to cattle and hogs in out of the way places in the country towns, which method of disposal it can, with great satisfaction be said, is “ becoming smaller by degrees and beautifully less.”
It is also carried into the country from some towns for composting and ploughing in. It has not been found of great value as a fertilizer.
It has also been carried out to sea and fed to the fishes. Evidence is furnished that a considerable part of fresh sewage and garbage is greedily devoured by fishes. As to the quality of such fish as compared with swill fed beef and pork, evidence is not attainable.
Destruction by fire is undoubtedly the disposal par excellence.
Crematories have been in operation during the year in Providence city and Newport city. The work of the crematory in Providence shows evidence of assured success. The crematory in Newport has been less successful, at least in point of economy.
It may seem quite unnecessary to say that by the annual collection and record of births, marriages and deaths, the State is apprised of the gain or loss in, not only its most important, but its absolutely indispensable constituent—that is, the population.
By a record of diseases and mortality, it is also apprised of the gain or loss in that essential element that constitutes the value of the population—that is, public health.
A large excess of births over the deaths is understood to indicate not only an increase of the population, but a high degree of physical vigor, healthfulness, enterprise, courage and extended length of life. A lessened birth-rate and increased death-rate is the ominous sign of a decadence, not only of the bodily vigor of the people, but of the national strength, prosperity and power.
By an annual census of births and deaths, the State or country can ascertain, in a considerable measure, its reserve of sturdy individuals and its probable rise or decline, and be prepared to promote the one or avert the other. It is also known that a record of births, marriages and deaths is indispensable in the tracing of the lines of genealogy or lineage, in the proof of regular descent, and in the establishment of right to entailments and ordinary inheritance.
But vital statistics have come in modern times to subserve much more extended uses. When collected, classified, arranged and collated in tables, they become the basis of much scientific study. In addition to their original application relative to civil and national life, in affording evidence of legal consanguinity; the prevailing public spirit and the moral tone of the social relations and disposition for associated interest, as shown by the marriago statistics and legitimate birth-rates; there are also other very important industrial, corporate and sanitary relations.
They furnish the data for determining the expectations of life at different ages, and are therefore the basis of life insurance, beneficial and annuity associations.
They furnish to medical science information of the highest value in regard to the relations of disease to locality, climate, sex, season, race, and the variations of the public health from year to year under different topographical and meteorogical conditions. To the sanitarian they are indispensable.
The report upon the registration of vital statistics for the year 1888, was prepared during 1889, and contains several tables additional to the previous report, which were deemed needful to illustrate some special illustration and make the work more complete.
The collation, arrangement, classification and tabulation, required the placing of about 1,600,000 figures in the notation of the various items of fact.
TRANSPORTATION OF THE DEAD.
The occasional contraction of contagious disease from a dead body, in transit or at destination, and the sometimes epidemic and largely fatal prevalence of the same as a result, has been a matter of considerable concern to the public. In view of this fact the National Association of General Baggage Agents proposed the formulation by State Boards of Health, by modification of their own or otherwise, of a set of rules which should prevent such dire accidents. The following communication was therefore forwarded to the association, as expressing the sentiments and opinion of the Rhode Island Board : To the National Association of General Baggage Agents :
The State Board of Health of the State of Rhode Island, in response to your request, recommend the following rules in relation to the transportation of the bodies of the dead :
1. The transportation of the bodies of persons dead of Small Pox, Asiatic Cholera, Typhus Fever or Yellow Fever, is absolutely forbidden.
2. The bodies of those who have died of Diphtheria, Scarlet Fever, Typhoid Fever, Erysipelas, Measles, and other contagious, infectious, or communicable diseases must be wrapped in a sheet thoroughly saturated with a strong solution of chloride of zinc, or chloride of lime, in the proportion of one-half pound of either chloride to a gallon of water ; or a strong solution of not less than two per cent. of the bi-chloride of mercury, and enclosed in a strong, tight wooden box.
3. In cases of contagious, infectious, or communicable diseases, the body must not be accompanied by attached articles or coverings which, (unless previously disinfected), have been exposed to the infection of the disease. And in addition to a permit from the Board of Health, or other medical or legal authorily, baggage agents will require an aflidavit from the shipping undertaker, stating how body has been prepared, and kind of coffin used, which must be in conformity with rule 2, and that tbe health officer or other legal authority of the locality, to which the body is consigned, has had such timely notice of the bour of its arrival within his jurisdiction as will enable him to supervise its reception.
4. The bodies of persons recently dead of diseases that are not contagious, infectious or communicable, may be received for transportation when encased in a sound coffin or metallic case, and enclosed in a strong wooden box securely fastened so it may be safely handled.
5. Every dead body must be accompanied by a person in charge who must be provided with a ticket, and also with a permit, as provided in rule 3, giving permission for the removal, and showing name of deceased, cause of death, and whether of a contagious or infectious nature.
6. The permit from a Board of Health, health officer, or other authority, must be issued in duplicate, the original to accompany body to destination,