Sanitary-Topographical Studies in Estonia During the

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Acta medico-historica Rigensia (2000) V: 141–148 DOI: 10.25143/amhr.2000.V.12 ACTA MEDICO-HISTORICA RIGENSIA

V

(XXIV)

ALAR SEPP, HELENA SEPP

SANITARY-TOPOGRAPHICALSTUDIES IN ESTONIA DURING THE 1920s AND 30s

The purpose of general and individual unnecessary illness and death. The of the

knowledge

poses the

of

goal

hygiene

must

of endogenous

prevention

to

of

as

far

possible

as

eliminate the exogenous

diseases is

possible only

to a

to

prevent

medicine presup-

preventive

of the diseases. On the whole, this

causes

be

is

hygiene

practice

means

that

of disease. The

causes

limited

extent

[l].

Introduction

19'"

In the

century, Tartu

was

in the

same

Czarist

region

Riga.

as

which had

strong intellectual links with Tartu. Hundred and hundreds Latvian students studied in Tartu receive

which offered ethnic Latvians the

University,

academic education and

an

Estonia’s first song festival started

had become the

identity. By

of Estonia's national

centre

with 3,000-5,000 students and the oldest

opportunity

academic fratemities'

19"'

held here in the

was

rediscover its national

to

organise

the late

the country

l9los, Tartu University

movement.

university

as

century,

to

[2].

ln the

1920s and 30s.

in the Baltics,

Tartu

was

the intellectual hub of Estonia. ln the

following

lopment

of

article

public

research

graphical University

we want

to

give

health in Estonia:

organised by

the

doctors knew how

them. In Tartu, Estonia, for ted

smallpox;

and

typhoid

to

cholera had been

fever and

history

of

of

sanitary-topo-

health of Tartu

public

national

gained

were

were

out

already

by public

not

how

to treat

almost eliminahealth

measures;

in decline. still the main killers:

infections and

its

university

of Estonia

vaccination had

virtually wiped

dysentery

gastro-intestinal

ln |9| 8 Estonia a

department

Republic

example,

third of all deaths in Estonia

for

short overview of the deve-

control infectious diseases, if

Nevertheless, infectious diseases culosis,

a

in the all counties of Estonia in the 1920s and 30s.

Public Health at the Birth of the

By |920,

readers

review of the

a

diphtheria

pneumonia.

accounted for

more

tuberthan

a

[3].

independence

which made it

possible

with the national staff who would

to

start

lay

the basis

working

on

141

different of

national health

a

up

health research in the In

Estonia

concerning

matters

setting

At

the

same

time it faced the serious task

was

of Public Health of the Tartu

The

speaking. former

of the Þ

sta

university

had left Estonia.

professors

scientists returned

At

was

the

a

became Estonianofthe

matter as most

time many well-known Estonian

their native country and started work

to

independent republic

University

complicated

same

public

University [4].

Estonian became the lan-

opened,

of tuition and administration. With the birth of the

Department

be said about

same can

of Public Health of Tartu

Department

|919, when the national university

guage

the

systems. The

care

at

the

University [s].

Ernst Fehrmann Until

|920 senior assistant,

Doctor of Medicine, Ernst Fehnnann. who had

leave, however, because he could Tartu University. He moved Then in |92|

he

was

elected full

ofthe Chair of Hygiene to

England

Riga

to

at the

gave lectures in

speak Estonian,

where he worked

elected assistant

was

1927 E. Fehrmann

not

professor

of

a

lecturer of hygiene

University

to

in

[6].

Six years later in

hygiene.

of hygiene. He worked

professor

Latvian

as

hygiene

as

from |922 until his

holder

a

emigration

in 1939 [7].

Alexander Rammul E. Fehrmann’s

University,

successor

He had

by nationality. he had worked

as

Public Health

[B].

degree as a

Tartu

at

University

an

of Public Health

Department

Alexander Rammul had wide his

improved

throughout he retired

was

the

changes

Republic The

142

the

at

Department

obtained his

professor

elected

at

Kasan

professor

in contemporary

major

} communal,

Republic

retiring

There to

was

come.

in 1940

hardly In the

of

doctor’s

in

University.

ordinary

at

the

hygiene,

Russian and also water

and food

as

western

hygiene,

he had

universion

which

German and French

of Public Health of Tartu of Estonia, that is up

to

[|o].

University

1940, when

was

expected

anyone, same

to

though,

to

bring along changes forsee the

extent

for

of the

year the Soviet Union annexed the

of Estonia.

period

among

1920—1940

saw

thesis (Paul Pöder, Mihkel Kask, fourteen

in

Department

of the first

period

Estonian

in |899 after which

[1 I].

Department.

virtual

knowledge

were

Head of the

Professor RammuPs the

on as a

was

several studies in Estonian, Russian,

published

was

[9].

knowledge

ties. His main research

Dr. Rammul

Hlopin

Russia and

to

from Kasan

professor

of Odessa in 1909. After that he had worked in Moscow

He leti Kasan for Tartu in |920 and

he

a

University

assistant for Professor G. V.

Later he had moved

University

at the

from Tartu

graduated

health service doctor and from |9| 5

studied and

was

Alexander Rammul, and also Doctor of Medicine, who

prize

thesis

by

students

the

accomplishment

Siim Lind),

[| 3].

[l2]

of three

Doctor’s

four Master’s thesis and

The title page ofthe book about the

description

of Saarema Island

sanitary-topography

143

Mihkel Kask One of the

students of

outstanding

most

professor

Rammul

was

Mihkel Kask

who, after defending his thesis, became senior assistant and lecturer

Department. food

M. Kask carried

on

his teacher's research

cation in Estonia, His dream

was

his whole life

University

a

who his

began

played

healthy individual.

to

bring

of Tartu in

an

not a

this dream into

1929, worked

knowledge was

abroad

(received support

clear for him from the

of their health and he tried

population [lB].

among

In |937 he

teach it his

began

public

possesses

special importance,

sources

more

that

to

a

classified the

most

place

since it remains life

everyday

situation in

general

extensive

undertaken

project

due to the lack of financial very

by

on

He worked from the in the

improved

his

[|7].

take

must

as

care

the whole

to

the radio, which

being

1933,

very

popular

compressed

published

as

in the

public

the

one

health

countics of Estonia

were

[22]

[23].

Alexander Rammul launched and led

far undertaken

such studies had confined

thorough preparation be doctors.

in

conditions of

living

The attention

was

[lifestyle].

diseases

etc.

possible

in order

single

to

of detailed

carried

mainly

and

out

1930®[2s]. of

paid

society.

then

was

concerned

studies that covered all the

came out

one,

All in all

the

studies

project. Yet, published

were

in 1928 and

comprised

about the Tartu district. I l collections

to

a

study

a vast

[24].

lt

was

on an

on

all the

sanitary-topographical unprecedented

areas.

question

® works

The

housing.

public

The

study

to

baths, nutrition,

study

make the results

Usually

preceded

by

was

launched in 1922

was

to

health aspects

social activities, health status. was

were

lists. Students of medicine, would-

the field works.

and

initiative

all counties.

study comprising

The aim of these studies

people

The other aim to

agrarian

unsatisfactory [2l].

released.

conditions in all ll counties of Estonia so

the

studies

Department

while the last

in 1938

as

on

The work

[2o].

of the fundamental

Estonian

accomplished

fonn. The first edition

years later,

ten

country has

concentrates

Department supported

the

resources

material about Saaremaa Island

habits

once

well

as

every week,

sanitary-topographical (medico-geographical)

no

than

themselves

people

his students

defended in

counties of Estonia. The State Health

as

one.

hygiene. participated

Sanitary-topographical (medico-geographical)

was

health edu-

hygiene [l s].

graduated

health in the Tartumaa district of Estonia

of information about

M. Kask

a

the and

people [l9].

situation of

in

He

regular presentations

The doctoral thesis of Mihkel Kask,

with

at

water

from Rockefeller Foundation, USA)

called “Health minutes” and took

were

treated and recovered

reality [l6].

studies,

beginning

to

public

the chair of

at

the chair of

at

role in

outstanding

and research

teaching

above mentioned sanitary-topographical

The

communal,

hygiene [l4].

ln 1930s Mihkel Kask,

It

on

drinking

prevalence

ascertain the

throughout water.

Estonia.

everyday

ofchronic and mental

different counties in

as

short

period

as

comparable [26].

145

Finances The interest of the

the

republic

This

is

at

All in all

l l collections

Content of

far from

was

had

study

to

good

[volumes]

and the

in

published

be

published

for the better

inspection

collections concentrated

published

fonn

were

cut.

[27].

released.

dwelling houses,

toilets and wells. Additional attention

on

to serve

were

the geograp-

as a

necessary

of health conditions? General

understanding

the rural

were

annually

were

compressed

all the counties of Estonia

on

hical. geological and climatic conditions, what

of the

sums

rather

a

the

by

situation Į of

collections

The first three parts of the

background

is demonstrated

study

it. Yet,® the

Department

that time

the

why

of Estonia in such

Republic

fact that the State Health

was

paid

to

baths

so-called

or

objects saunas,

health, eating habits,

of

use

alcohol, clothes, shoes and bodily cleanliness. Also, folk medicine. the pregnancy

period

and

taking

of infants

care

were

The studies showed that the situation in was

much lower than in

primitive most

huts without

of the

new

chimneys

farmhouses

general hygiene

Saunas

saunas

used

were

used for

not

were

example,

most

light; petroleum lamps

were

very

once a

widely spread

week

on

countryside

the studies, traditional and very

to

living

any

more.

well the conditions of ventilation,

poor. For

were

conveniences of electric other hand,

as

[2B].

in the Estonian

hygiene

According

towns.

described

the average

in

and

of the counties lacked any still used instead. On the

were

and

Yet.

lighting

among country folk.

popular

[29].

Problems and solutions All the counties shared

a

that

problem

was

pollution

of

drinking

paigns explaining

water.

the

The situation was

population.

thirds of the rural Under such

people

were

The aim and task of the do the

descriptions give in the 1920s in

fonning

[3

l ].

health

a

very

with toilets

provided

by

both

state

mortality living

as

well

policies

to

out cam-

carry

health of rural

the 20s and 30s

two

was

forced

on

the

and local authorities. was

to

out® to

health condition

general

what

depend

condition and food and other factors. These

precious picture

Unfortunately,

as

of

[3o].

of artesian wells

building

laws

the way of life, customs,

on

made

were

wells for the

sanitary-topographical study

and

morbidity

efforts

why

of artesian

pollution

them and favoured the

to

unsatisfactory although by

circumstances the

peasantry by corresponding

extent

That is

importance

serious- the

becoming

wells. Cattle—sheds and toilets often stood very close

of the life in the

the results of the

for the future,

as

Estonia

Republic

of Estonia

could not be

study was

fully

used

annexed in 1940.

Conclusion In conclusion

we

can

conditions and health

drawing public sanitary

146

say

care

attention

to

conditions in the

that the collections

published the main

Republic

during

the

on

description

period

problems helped

to

of Estonia. Rural

of

sanitary

under discussion and

improve notably

population

the

with poor

knowledge

in

importance

of

elementary hygiene hygiene by

in the

1920s had become conscious of the

the end of the 19305. Estonia had

country with modern standards in public health. For these

publications represent

They

can

as

well

of local

by explorers

as

conditions in the Estonian colourful

a

be reached and used

picture

of

valuable historical

by

researchers A

history.

source

in the first

history of

thorough description

life of Estonians

two

during

into

developed

a

contemporary reader

the social

on

counties between the

everyday

a

world

public

health

gives

wars

their

place.

of Estonia

a

® republic.

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tervishoiuline

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Pärnumaa tervishoiuline

-

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29.

-

|997. Ik.

nr.

29.

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-

Mihkel

|997. lk. 179-186. |929; Rammul

|930: Rammul A. A.

Mihkel

|79-|B6.

H. Tartumaa tervishoiulistest oludest |930.a. alguses (Dr.

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kirjeldus.

Nr.

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Viljandimaa

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-

Tartus,

tervishoiuline

kirjeldus. Tartus.

-

A.

Virumaa

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Tartus,

-

Tartus,

1934: Rammul

1935; Rammul

A.

-

1933: A.

Harjumaa

|937

Alar Sepp. MD, lecturer Helena Sepp. MA, researcher

University E-mail:

148

ofTartu,

Department

[email protected]

of Public Health, Ravila 19, 504l I

,

Tartu, Estonia