History Revealed

EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT THE HISTORY OF MEDICINE

Q: What would you say are the three biggest turning points in the history of medicine?

A: Every historian will have different thoughts on this, but I would say inoculation for smallpox, which made its way to Europe and the US in the 18th century. The West was pretty late to the party, though, as inoculation had already been taking place in Asia and Africa for a long time. Smallpox ravaged through populations, so the idea that human intervention could actually change lives was a really important milestone.

The next game-changer was germ theory in the 19th century – the discovery that germs cause disease. And the third turning point I would choose was the advent of contraception. The ability to make pregnancy a choice rather than a happenstance was really significant, and that started to become a more widely publicised thing in the early 19th century.

Q: Do you think it’s fair to say that the history of medicine has been one of steady progress and continual improvement?

I don’t think it’s necessarily been a steady upward trajectory to

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