AN AWFUL PLAGUE.
Observer, Rōrahi XXIII, Putanga 4, 11 Whiringa-ā-nuku 1902, Page 3
AN AWFUL PLAGUE.
The Health Department and its Inspectors. ARE we not having just a little too much of the Health Department ? It is obviously right to take precaution for conserving the public health, but are we not running to extremes? The present elaborate system, with its principal and district health officers, its inspectors and what not, owes its origin to the plague scare, and nobody would have missed it if it had taken its departure when the said scare died a natural death. The part played by it when the last of the troopships returned, infected with disease, was not useful, and nobody can suggest that it was dignified. There is a good deal of busybodying Bumbledon about it, and it is just as likely to do harm as good, inasmuch as the tendency is to frighten simple people into the belief that they are afflicted with ailments that never come withincoo-ee of them.
An instance of what we refer to is provided by a circular issued by Dr Makgill a week ago to all the medical practitioners in the city. This draws attention to the alleged fact that there has been a good deal of diarrhoea, believed to be of toxic form, about recently, and the doctors are asked to give information, which is quite too much to expect from them, in order that the office of the Department might be magnified. The blank table supplied asks for details of patients and cases, as follows : — What occupation. Where do they work, or school attend, or live at home. Water supply. Milk supply (Many get milk from two or more supplies). Bread Supply. Grocer. Baking powder. Butcher. Vegetables. waters, cordials, etc. Name of patient. Address. List of goods partaken just before illness began : — Meat : Beef, mutton, poultry, sausages, ham or bacon, tinned meat. Fish : Oysters, smoked fish. Vegetables : Cress, Lettuce. Bread. Puddings. Cakes, etc. Bisouits. Condiments •. Mustard, pepper, salt, pickles, etc. Jams. Drinks : Water, tea, coffee, milk, beer, spirits. This is a large order, and as-the results obtained, though greatly modified, demonstrate once more that ancient truth that doctors disagree, it cannot be pretended that the game was worth the candle.
Epidemics of disease may be bad, but it is more than possible that they are not worse than epidemics of inspectors. This latter seems to be our worst plague at the present time. Ah the Hon. W. Jennings said in the Legislative Council the other day, every vestige of the people's liberty is being destroyed by this Health Department. And our trouble is not with health inspectors alone. Nowadays, we have inspectors to see that hens lay eggs of the right colour, inspectors to punish people for allowing Scotch thistles to grow in their gardens, and inspectors for everything else under the sun. And all the inspectors draw fat salaries from the people whom they are paid to oppress.