Health Systems before Welfare States

By Guest Blogger, and INHH Board Member, Professor Barry Doyle

Cities in Europe

The programme has been announced for the European Association of Urban Historians (EAUH) Conference in Lisbon September 2014. This extensive event will include papers from over 500 participants from across Europe, North America and Australasia. Among the main sessions will be a panel headed by INHH Board member, Barry Doyle of the University of Huddersfield and his co-organiser Fritz Dross of Magdeburg, a well-known member of the Network. Their session will address the issue of Health Systems before Welfare States seeking to explore how health care provision, especially at an institutional level, changed in urban areas in the 150 years before the full scale development of centralized (and often nationalized) medical systems in the aftermath of the Second World War.

Following an excellent response to the call for papers we have been able to select a very strong panel which examines a number of important themes from industrial disability and the policing of prostitutes through the bases of urban public health to the transformation of hospital provision in a number of Europe’s important urban centres.

Health care for specific groups will be considered by Anne Borsay in a paper drawing on her coalfield disability project while Jörg Vögele and Hideharu Umehara address the extent to which cities made children healthy in an assessment of public health provision for the young in turn of the century Dusseldorf. Two papers will examine the role of the medical profession in urban settings. Mari Tanninen will assess medical practitioners’ participation as supporters and critics of regulated prostitution in late nineteenth century Vienna and Michael Toyka-Seid the involvement of local medical men in the development of an urban health care system in the small but important English provincial city of Durham. The concerns of these individuals and activist groups will be contrasted with those of nationwide institutions including central government, municipalities, insurance schemes and religious organisations. Thus, Bernard Harris will explore the financial basis for English urban sanitary reform, 1871-1914 and Margarita Vilar-Rodríguez and Jerònia Pons-Pons’ paper considers the way the Franco regime managed the construction of a network of public hospitals and outpatient clinics between 1940 and 1960.

The centrality of a mixed economy of welfare in the early twentieth century across Europe will be a recurrent theme in the session. It is apparent in Franco’s Spain, self-governing Ulster and Francophone Belgium with the Catholic church central to voluntary provision in each country. Sean Lucey’s presentation demonstrates the centrality of religion to the shaping of public health policy in the divided city of Belfast
between the wars while Hendrik Moeys’ consideration of the development of domiciliary and institutional care at a local level in Ghent, Brussels and Liège shows that much provision depended heavily on the contribution of religious orders and Catholic charities. In a similar vein, Lydia Sapounaki-Drakaki and Maria-Luiza Tzoya Moatsou are to investigate the way local actors in the Greek port of Piraeus struggled to meet their obligation to deliver adequate services, paying particular attention to the role of elite women in the management of a mixed system.

While hospitals will feature in many of the papers in the session those by Alexandra-Kathrin Stanislaw-Kemenah and Valeria Rainoldi deal specifically with the transformation of institutions in the nineteenth century. In a paper to be delivered in French, Stanislaw-Kemenah looks inside the hospital to assess the role of the clinic, clinician and patient in changing institutional care in Dresden while Rainoldi will analyse the role of donations in the modernizing provision of the Italian city of Verona.

Ospedale Infantile Alessandri, Verona

Ospedale Infantile Alessandri, Verona

We are very pleased to have the opportunity to present such a diverse panel showcasing the important new work taking place in health, and especially hospital, history across Europe. Scholars from the UK, Ireland, Germany, Spain, Greece, Belgium, Poland, Italy and Finland will be contributing papers covering seven different countries demonstrating both the similarities and differences which shaped their health care systems before the arrival of the welfare state.



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