A qualitative research: how was the objectives and principles of public health tackled in the public health coursebook by Julius Hirsch and Muhiddin Erel?

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Güven M., Evcil F. Y., İnce F.

History and Philosophy of Medicine, vol.4, no.4, pp.1-6, 2022 (Peer-Reviewed Journal)


Objective: We aimed to assess the subject of "Purpose and Principles of Public Health" in the work titled "Public Health Coursebook" dated 1938, share the information we obtained and compare it with today's information. Methods: Multiple document analysis method in qualitative research was used to design the study. First of all, original edition of the Public Health Coursebook was purchased from a website with rare books. The book was thoroughly examined and the "Purpose and Principles of Hygiene (Public Health)" part in the first volume was evaluated. The information in the book was compared with today's information according to the methodology of history of medicine. Secondly, the Republic Archive Catalog of the Turkish Presidency of the Republic of Turkiye State Archives was scanned. Results: After the University Reform movement in Turkiye in 1933, the Faculty of Medicine was established at Istanbul University. In the same period, Turkiye embraced many scientists who fled abroad due to Nazi regime. One of them, Julius Hirsch, was appointed as the head of Hygiene Institute, and Turkish physician Muhiddin Erel became his assistant. The Purpose and Principles of Public Health are discussed in the first volume of the Hygiene Textbook, which they both prepared together. The book, defines public health as "the science of protecting and maintaining health". Public health has been handled with a holistic approach. The aim of measures to be taken regarding public health is explained as the prevention of untimely death, prevention of diseases and protection of the ability to work even in advanced ages. It has been specifically stated that the common goal is to protect public health and ensure the continuity of health despite the practices that vary by time, place and cultures. The documents in the State Archives are about the admission of immigrant scientists to Turkiye, Hirsch's Turkish citizenship and appointments. Conclusion: Despite all this time, it has been observed that the issues mentioned in the study largely overlap with the public health aspect of medicine and today's perspective. We think that it is important to bring similar books to literature by evaluating them with field experts.