Friday, August 11, 2017

Lectures on Public Health.

'Patchaya' was Dean of the Faculty of Medicine. He was also Professor of Public Health. He had got his training in Harvard. He used to give lectures on Public health, from a book of notes written down years ago. The notes were the basis of lectures given year after year to generations of medical student. The same words interspersed with the same jokes were repeated.
          It was found that iron deficiency anaemia was rampant in Ceylon before the 1950’s. This caused lethargy physically and mentally in the population. It also caused a high maternal mortality and morbidity. The major cause was hook worm infestation. The hook worms were transmitted by bad toilet habits where, defecation was done out doors, under trees or starry skies or better still a high rock was used for toilet purposes. The faecies carried hook worm eggs, which hatched and the larvae penetrated the bare feet of any one in the vicinity and went up the blood stream to the lungs and later the gut. This cycle had to be stopped, if anaemia and morbidity had to be stopped in the population. Public Health’s answer to this was to build latrines and promote it’s use by the population.
          Methods of construction of latrines was a major topic in Patchaya’s lectures. Here are a few samples.
1.      The squatting plate of the toilet is so designed, that anyone who uses it will hit a “bull’s eye” everytime.
2.      The roofing material for toilets had many problems. Some of the villagers wanted no roof at all as they felt that without a sight of the naked sky above, that they would not be able to defecate comfortably.
3.      The pros and cons, for a roof for the toilet made out of, galvanized steel corrugated sheets. These were according to Patchaya:-
“Hot in hot weather,
Cold during cold weather and
Noisy during rainy weather.”
All the above facts had to be given in the answer scripts to get distinction marks.

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