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THE "BLACK PLAGUE.", New Zealand Times, Volume XXXII, Issue 7224, 5 September 1910
THE "BLACK PLAGUE."
PERIL TO THE COUNTRY. COMMENTS BY MINISTER OF JUSTICE. Speaking to the Wellington Brotherhood yesterday afternoon, the Hon. Br Findlay, Minister of Justice, referred to a subject which, he said, was allied to that of prison reform, on which ho had addressed the audience. It was a subject which it ivi, their duty to look boldfy in the iaee. He had been ec.npelled to 'look into figures to see what was feeding our criminal class. It was dirnk chiefly, and the evils of vice to which the country was exposed. A little while ago he was called upon by a lady who saU to him. "There are two women in one of our gaols abi.ut to be released. Both are in a condition which means pollution to people at present healthy in this, community. ' She de=cnb--u their condition. Upon medical inquiry ho found what had been stated wa., correct. Auckland spoke of a still moie ghastly ease. Under a stimuliliun 01 this kind ho had a conferonv in ha, office boU-.-cii representatives ot the medical profession and the clergy of Wellington. lie asked the doctor.-, present, nien wht-e names they would accept as a guari-ntte of proof and acquraov, as to the extent of the evil. A cicrgvmau. known to them all, and widely lv.-peaed, taid, "What litis been stated oolites t.o me as- a ghastly revelation. I have been living in a tool's paradise." A SOCIAL CANCER. We were, said the speaker, most of us living in a fool's psradi-e. Many _ a goodly apple was rotten at tne core. Today in Auckland, Wellington, Duncdin, and Chri.-ichurch taere was a cancer •spreading through our peop.e of which most ot us hadn't a ghost cf a notion, it had become such a peril that it was his duty and their duty, and the duty of every patriotic citizen, to arouse themselves from their apathy and deal with this question. Were they, he asked, to allow piudorv and prejudice to permit this state ot" things to go on? The figures submitted to him regarding the prevalence of three -diseases placed beyond all question the fa/i-t that they must do some-thing. The percentage of such cases was not so much what impressed him as the extent of the operations upon innocent women rendered necessary thereby. T'hev had figures upon the authority of eminent medical raer.; showing that somewhere between (if) and 80 per cent, of these operations were due to infection arising from the source, ho had mentioned, or through some consequence of that infection. THE EVIL GREAT. . He asked them to believe that the figures in his possession showed that tho evil was a great and increasing one in NewZealand. What were thoy to do? A voice : Enforce tho Contagious Diseases Act. Dr Findlay: I shall be no party to mnfko tho road to vice easy or prostitution safe. Proceeding, he asked, were thoy to view these diseases as they viewed tuberculosis and cancer? They must avoid altogether the basic principles of tho C.D. Act, which was to make vice saifo. That was not what they were going to do in this country. They proposed that every doctor and chemist who was consulted by a person 60 afflicted skouldcommvnicate with the public health officer. On receipt of that information, it would be treated with all secrecy by the health officer, who would see that the diseased person took such steps as were necessary. Further, they should make it a crime for any man or woman known to have one of these drradiiul diseases to allow that disease to be wilfully conveyed. It waa curious that there should be any resistance to this, seeing that persons who had scarlet fever and exposed themselves iu a tramoar were liable to a fine and imprisonment- And yet in New Zealand some merciless, diseased rake 'might convey this disease to his wife or to some weak woman under pretence of marriage a.nxl go soot free. IT MUST BE STOPPED. We had got to stop that, and he believed that legislation on the lines proposed would go a long way to check this di» ease among women who were not protected. It was not suggested that this would eradicate the trouble. All he said was that it would do something to check the present evil. They were told that the doctors would not report. Well, the same kind of statements vrem made ■whien they placed upon the statute book the compulsory provisions for reporting infectious diseases. These provisions were saving hundreds of lives. 'The people had the future of this country in their hands and hearts. If they would give him and others who were trying without selfish motives to put upon the statute book something for the elevation and betterment of the people, their support an this matter, there would be no difficulty in accomplishing the object they had in view. "This is work for you and me," said Dr Findlay in conclusion. "These prison reforms and. the present reform I have mentioned, and other reforms are going to make this country a great deal better. Help me, and I will do my best to deserve your support, and I believe I will get it from the people of New Zealand." (Applause). On the motion of the ohairman, Rev. E. O. Blamires, the meeting passed a resolution admiring- the outspoken utterances of Dt Findlay, strongly encouraging him in "his efforts, and calling upon all-right thinking men and -women to arouse at the call of duty and help him in the purification of the social life of New Zealand. criticism of doctor findlat's proposals. alternatives suggested. The following communication has reohed us from the Legal and Parliamentary Department of the Women's Christian Teroperanoe Union. Christchurch:— The Legal and Parliamentary Department of the New Zealand Women's Christian Temperance Union regrets the proposed introduction by Dr Findlay of penal clause© under the Public Health Aot, 1908, with regard to special colntagious diseases. It appears to the department that a scheme of the kind proposed contains dements likely to defeat its own object, and endanger, rather than protect, the public health. This department believes that there are only two sound lines upon which to proceed to combat the undoubted evils of syphilis, viz:— (1) THE EDUCATION OF THE YOUNG. This was strongly advocated by the recent International Conference held at Brussels. This conference was composed of some 360 members of 33 nationalities. Of these, 107 wore Government delegates representing 29 different countries, mostly European, but including the United States, Persia, and Japan. Our own War Office and the India Office were represented, togetner with the Royal College of Surgeons, the Irish College of Surgeons, and the British Medical Association. Out of the entire number, 295 were doctors, and «. large number of these held public posts in the • "Service of Health," or as professors of the special subject The 65 non-medical members included Ministers of State, heads of police or health departments, delegates of municipalities, legal authorities, and professors, and -a few other persons individually invited on the ground of special competence, and representing, for the most part, the sociological side of the. subject; among these were several women. To show what is being done to combat this diseaee in those countries . where
they are supposed to manage these things better than in England, it may be pointed out that Dr Boureau, of Pans, gives public lectures on tho subject every year to students and to working men. Professor Ncis;-er lie*, a full course every winter for the university students generally each of whom also receives on' matriculation a notice warning him o, the dangers attending an irregular life, and putting before him the moral aspects of the question. The Minister of Education had recommended that similar measurcs should h? taken in all the Prussian universities. . Professors Fournier, Troisfountames j and others proposed, or had already i adopted, a svstem whereby to diffuse m- | formation, thu- affording "Protection by Knowledge." 1 Mr Jonathan Hutchinson, the English ; sixcialist, who attended as one of the representatives of the Royal College ot i Suigeniis, and whose European rcputa- j tion made him the object of the mo.-a respectful attention, advised that young ; men in public tc-hcols and colleges should : be warned and instructed, and the in. i •;truction should include moral considers I tions and re-peet for the purity of wo- ; men. . \ A diminution of vice would bring with : it a diminution of disease. j With regard to nwn in the army, Mi Hutchinson said that if the matter were put before tho men in a reasonable way, he it« convinced that they would respond, and that would do more to diminish disease in the army than ail tho regulation that could be devised. This'department suggests that tho Edu- ' cation Department of New Zealand should procure the services of specialists to educate the young people in our schools and universities by means of scientific teaching concerning the functions of their bodies, the dangers consequent on the misuse of thpm. and the value of healthful self-control. This course- lia.s not yet been tried in NewZealand, and the Legal and Parliamentary Department of the New Zealand Women's Christian Temperance Union considers that in view of the statements of such eminent specialists as are above quoted, it should be given a fair trial. The department is convinced that this is much tho most hopeful method of dealing with the evil, for it is a question of'divided opinion whether, once the disease had been contracted, any subsequent treatment can cure the victim, or remove the danger to the community. i The second line is:— | (2) THE ABSOLUTELY FREE TREATMENT OF EVERY* PATIENT SUFFERING FROM ANY FORM OF, THIS DISEASE. Such treatment can only be carried out | whore the patient cheerfully and freely offers him or herself foir treatment, and both on the Continent of EiiTOpe and in . England this has been effected only j where the patients have been convinced j that they are perfectly free to come and. go. | At the recent Brussels Conference . several speakors laid stress on the ab- i senee of compulsory detention as an es- I sontial of voluntary applications for treatment. Dr Kevins instanced the case of the Glasgow Infirmary, where for some years patients of this kind were required on entering to sign a promise to remain until discharged. It was found that patients refused to sign, and presently ceased to come at all, and the rule had to be rescinded. The fear of compulsory detention had been fatal to success of the scheme Dr Boureau said that there was a philanthropic society in Paris which maintained a free dispensary for these patients. "The olandestines whom the police fail to reacih come to us," he said. "At first ' they feared w© would detain them, but now they come freely, and often bring their companions." The fact that prominent medical men of high standing declare emphatically that they will not notify all cases, no matter what the law may provide, is in itself a proof of the uselessness of the proposed legislation-—(Signed) FANNY COLE, President. It. B. LOVELL-SMITH, Sup. of Dept. SOME OBJECTIONS. DR FINDLAY REPLIES TO OP- - PONENTS OF THE SCHEME.
Since the publication of the AttorneyGeneral's suggested scheme for checking tho spread of the social evil, there has been a considerable amount of discussion as to the likelihood of good results being secured by the means proposed. It has been suggested in some quarters that it will be found impracticable to deal with the evil by the suggested amendments of the Public Health Act, though others look upon the, scheme much more favourably. Replying to the objection that many medical men and chemists may be unwilling to report cases, even under threat of a penalty, tho Hon. Dr Findlay says that similar suggestions were made prior to the passing of sections of the Public Health Act putting a compulsion on medical -practitioners to report certain cases of infectious disease. It had been predicted, too, that sufferers would go for remedies to persons not duly qualified, but in point of fact this had not been found to be the case, and medical men and chemists had consistently done their duty in' reporting all oases that have come under their notice. There would be sonic temptation to avoid a doctor or chemist in the case of syphilitic diseases, but he believed that the' great majority of the persons affected would go to the best doctors. Dr Findlay does not place much reliance on the argument that sufferers ni.ght prescribe for themselves by gradually getting the necessary drugs in a manner which would not indicate tho nature of the disease under treatment, as he oonsiders that this sort of procedure could not long, remain undetected. He also combats the theory that the effect ! of the proposals would be to send victims of the disease into the hands of "quacks," who would not report the oases. He contends that if a "quack" had anything like a practice it -would not escape notice, any more than systematic sly grog-selling could continue unobserved. So far as he was concerned he would take all care to see that tho police should be vigilant for evasions of the law. The suggestion that medical men and chemists should be at liberty to use their own discretion as to reporting a case does not meet ivith his approval. He is of opinion that the effect of granting such power might be that wealthy persons could escape the sending of a notice to the District Health Officer. No discretion is allowed to medical men in the case of infectious diseases such as scarlet fever and typhoid. "Any discretion in the matter," atated Dr Findlay, " should be only the discretion of a discreet Public Health Officer. In the first place he would probably consult the doctor, and if he was satisfied that there was no cause "for interference nothing would be done." Tho Minister also mentions that there need be no reason to fear from the recording of a. case. All that is wanted is a notification as in tho cases of other diseases which are a danger to the public. Confidence will be respected, not only for the sake of those immediately concerned, but for that of the Public Health Office itself.
THE "BLACK PLAGUE.", New Zealand Times, Volume XXXII, Issue 7224, 5 September 1910
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