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The Individual as Activist
The individual as activist
The Role of the Health Activist

In 1847, the Prussian province of Silesia was ravaged by a typhoid epidemic. Because the crisis threatened the population of coal miners in the area, and thus the economy, the Prussian government hired a young pathologist, Rudolf Virchow, to investigate the problem. His employers imagined that Virchow would return with the recommendation then in vogue; a little more fresh air, a little more fresh drinking water. But Virchow had much more to say about the situation. He had spent three weeks in early 1848, not studying statistics or bureaucratic reports, but living with the miners and their families. One of the first points he made in his report was that typhoid was only ...

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