• U.S.

Medicine: Health for Houston

2 minute read

In proud, prosperous Houston, Texas (pop. 596,000), citizens are well accustomed to the idea that their town is getting bigger—and is going to keep on getting” bigger. Lately, Houstonians have been asking themselves: What do we have to do to make Houston healthier as well as bigger? Texas-fashion, Houston and surrounding Harris County set out to answer that question themselves.

Three hundred volunteers (doctors, lawyers, businessmen and social workers) were organized into 18 committees to study the area’s health needs in such matters as hospital facilities, sewage disposal, food sanitation, tuberculosis, care of the disabled. Each committee went digging for facts and estimates under three headings: 1) What do we have now? 2) What do we need now? 3) What shall we need in ten years?

Last week, after three years of hard work, their findings were published in a detailed, 92-page report entitled Blueprint for Health. Among the findings: ¶ Hospital construction is coming along, but the area needs a new city-county hospital and far more facilities for tuberculous patients, for convalescents and the mentally ill.

¶ A countywide Government agency needs to be set up to supervise water supplies and sewage disposal for the county as a whole.

¶ Houston’s city health department has been working on a budget that amounts to $1.17 a year per citizen. This is better than New Orleans’ 92¢ per citizen, but far below Washington, D.C.’s $3.36, San Francisco’s $2.68 and Seattle’s $1.99. Recommendation: that Houston up its public health budget to about $2.

Says the preface to Blueprint for Health, with a nod to rundown slum areas: “This community has in it the seeds of contagion, contamination, human misery and criminal neglect . . . But it also has in it sources of power great enough to protect us all against the consequences of mass-living.”

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