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The mass media at the service of the fight against venereal diseases and the protection of maternal-infant health Focusing on posters about the protection of maternal-infant health and about venereal diseases, the article analyzes their use within the context of the health education campaigns that Spanish health institutions devised to disseminate scientific and technical knowledge, influence attitudes, and modify the behavior of the Spanish people.
The study also analyzes the use of posters as a tool for attracting patients to health services. The use of images as important sources in the history of medical research is not new.
However, until recent decades, historians have failed to explore its potential as historix key element in historic reconstruction. Nonetheless, there is a number of examples of this type of phenomena Dixon,including a monographic series on “picturing history” that contains publications of major interest Gilman,and studies that refer to the world of medicine that come under the heading of visual culture Cartwright, ; Treitchler et al, ; Sturken; Bwrnicoat, Some of these works have dealt, at least partially, with the role of images as social representations, throughout the history of public health Gilman, ; Fox and Lawrence, ; Jordanova, Among recent studies, iconographic representations in health education posters have received little attention despite their undoubted interest.
There are other more general studies on posters and health, but the focus tends to be on pharmaceutical advertising Helfand, ; Robert-Sterkendries, andFiguerola et al. In the specific case of public health posters, a number of studies have opened up the field of research Helfand, b. Some significant works have been published to date Bernstein,while others are still in the early stages Stein and Cooter, In particular we should mention projects carried out by the National Library of Medicine Helfand, lenguajje, Boyle,and projects by the University of Amsterdam 1the International Institute of Social History of Amsterdam, 2 the University of Baricoat 3 and the University of Minnesota 4among others.
In Spain there has been specific interest in the area of posters on accidents at work. Danger, ; Velasco, Not only did it use traditional media such as lectures and educational talks to spread its message, but it also employed mass media. Posters became popular early on, while it was not until the barnicoay, when the public health system was consolidated Perdiguero,that new media such as radio and cinema also became widely accepted.
This type of media was seen as a powerful method of spreading educational messages to broad sectors of the population. In this sense we can see that Spain followed a similar path to that of historka countries Lederer et al. This article aims to analyse the use of health posters in the context of education campaigns designed by Spanish health institutions to spread scientific-technical knowledge, to influence the Spanish population’s attitudes, and to attempt to modify its behaviour.
We will concentrate on posters that relate to the protection of mother-infant health and venereal diseases. Our research also analyses the use of posters as a way of attracting patients to health services, together with the contribution they made to the construction of a certain image of healthy motherhood and infancy, and seeks to reflect images of gender and sexuality in Spain’s public health system.
Both of these contexts: The basic difference was that the gap between health and disease became blurred.
Instead of a single concern the patientan entire section of the population became subject to the risk of contacting a disease by behaving in a particular way. This led to a change in public and private space. In order to guarantee a healthy society, authorities needed to control the population’s private space.
We also know, from a purely creative point of view, that during the early XX century the decorative style prevailed, characterising the period from the end of the XIX century to the start of the First World War. During the first years of the XX Century the historical vanguards of modern art evolved and had a major influence on the world of posters. Using posters as a means of spreading propaganda during the First World War and during the Russian Revolution significantly influenced their subsequent development Barnicoat, ; Gubern,pp.
As time went on they came to be considered less items of art and more technical means of communication. As the painter and symbolist poster-maker Maurice Denis pointed out in The poster is a flag, hisotria emblem, a sign: Designed to attract attention and rapidly communicate a message, the aim of the poster was to persuade, sell, convince, and change a person’s behaviour.
In the case of Spain the arrival of posters coincided with a strong desire to embrace modernity, bbarnicoat follow Europe, to adopt European life-styles and the aesthetic trends which had triumphed there.
This motivation characterised the beginning of the XX century in Spain, where the poster became a path to modernisation Piqueras,pp. Posters became a powerful method of moulding pubic opinion.
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They represented the earliest means of showing the same image to a lot of people. Thus they represented a basic means of social persuasion, and were used by both advertising authorities and political parties Gubern,pp. The success of posters in both of these fields led to the study of their usefulness in terms of modifying public opinion and improve health carfeles Helfand, a.
As in the case of political posters, the objective of health posters was to transmit information simply and easily, ensuring complete comprehension on the part of readers and those who could not or did not have enough time to read short texts Berstein,p.
Carteles, Los – Su Historia y Lenguaje by John Barnicoat (Paperback / softback, 1996)
We should bear in mind that the difference between this and other types of selectively chosen message is that posters are more popular carfeles the entire population in their surroundings are targeted by them, and visual consumption does not depend on the free will of the consumer any more. One of the methodological problems we must consider as regards any analysis of health posters is the context in which they were studied.
As an analytical tool we will use a model that studied visual culture Jordanova,p. The first health posters. The predecessors to the institutional health poster in Spain were the edicts issued by public and health authorities on issues related to health. The first health posters, like these municipal bills, were typographical and were produced in black and white. The information, which was intended for public spaces, referred to preventive health measures relating to epidemics and environmental hygiene matters rubbish, human waste, animals, etc, and did not contain carteeles.
Inbarbicoat Mayor of Barcelona asked the citizens of the city to adopt a series of preventive measures that he summed up in the words “cleanliness, disinfection, peace of mind” in the context of a yellow fever epidemic. Before the First World War there were some isolated examples of health posters. Absolute and Radical Cure in the Sanatorium for Syphilitics Guerra a les mosques, For hygiene, for aesthetics, for comfort, for dignity.
War on fliesan 80 x 58 cm chromolithograph that popularised and spread the message that flies can transmit diseases. The poster showed death grabbing a child in its right hand, holding a plate of food surrounded by flies in its left; a series of swallows surrounded the figures, catching the flies in flight.
The same author also produced a poster on infant hygiene as part of the institution’s propaganda work. Despite the limited nature of the initiative, all the health issues the Mancomunitat addressed had a propaganda budget.
In addition to a series of publications focusing mainly on malaria Bernabeu,various posters were produced Mancomunitat de Catalunya,pp. The anti-flu epidemic poster of Octoberwhich the Institut d’Estudis Catalans published, described the personal hygiene measures people were advised to adopt to avoid contacting the disease, as well as measures that reduced the danger of the patients for those taking care of them.
This example is particularly significant, as the special circumstances in which the health measures of the incipient autonomous actions of the Mancomunitat were carried out meant that they complemented the health and social measures of the central state Balcells et al. In this context health propaganda was deemed extremely important, however the central state failed to develop eu to any significant degree.
Posters from the public antivenereal propaganda office. These coercive strategies co-existed alongside the development of other voluntary strategies from the end of the s, and when the II Republic was established in the latter found a more receptive political climate. In the Anti-venereal Executive Committee, a central organism dedicated to the fight against venereal disease, declared: Effectively, until the end of the twenties the official anti-venereal body failed johj organise a specific health propaganda campaign.
However, there were individual experiences, mainly lectures in clinics, arts and science associations, work meetings, etc.
In the office published and distributed 18, posters and organised a poster exhibition with posters from other countries. The Anti-Venereal Executive Committee’s office was the first of its kind that was specifically devoted to the issuing of health propaganda in Spain.
However, the Anti-Venereal Executive Committee was distributing posters referring to the anti-venereal struggle at least as early aswhen a competition was convened to choose suitable posters. Bornay has synthesized these images in the equation: The images these posters present established a connection between the transmission of venereal diseases and sexually dangerous women Berstein,p.
Throughout Julio Bravo continued to produce text and composition for posters. The Azua Clinic, Segovia, 4, and the Martinez Anido Clinic, Sandoval, 5, are model institutions of their kind and offer you free medical care paid for by the State’. These posters tackled a broader range of issues than inand their vision was not limited to warning men about the risks of visiting prostitutes or “fast” women.
Julio Bravo was educated in the U. The topic of these posters centred on the man’s responsibility and obligation to take care of his family, society and race. This obligation was reflected in the poster ‘Your Health is Not Only Yours’which showed a man’s wife and child as innocent victims of potentially irresponsible behaviour.
The moral position was lejguaje in terms of sexual habits concerning the debate about the body, health, the health of the nation and race Kuhn,p. As indicated by Soviet anti-venereal posters, the central role of gender in the representation of good and bad health is common, as is the figure of the dangerous single woman Berstein,p. The posters included very Spanish themes like the Spanish Gentleman, who is asked to: References to the economic value of a person’s health also appear: Self-control, innocent and honest fun, and physical education were the necessary conditions for sexual abstention.
These new values were emphasised in order to break the double sexual standards that approved different sexual behaviour for the two sexes. This new stance was fiercely defended by abolitionists and relied on the support of the feminists.
Intruders, who were represented as vampires in posters were another object of attention in the fight against venereal disease: The composition of Julio Bravo’s posters, as stated above, was characterised by an adherence to the figurative poster tradition and lack of artistic interest. These propaganda posters played an important role in the rise in demand for services among the population.
In this context, posters were used as a tool to increase demand. Some doctors involved in the anti-venereal struggle accomplished their objective, at least in part. InEduardo de Gregorio from the Saragossa clinic stated, in relation to the rise in demand for services: Health posters during the II Republic. Not until the beginning of the s and the Republican victory did the public health services consolidate Atenza et al. The importance of the propaganda task, even before the Republican victory, can be seen in the work of the Escuela Nacional de Sanidad National School of Healthonce it was re-launched inwhere Medical Officers had their education Bernabeu, One of the subjects students had to pass was expressively entitled: The fact that it was included in the curriculum of future public health specialists was clear evidence of the importance granted to this area.
As part of his or her job, every public health specialist had to consider the need to connect with the population and make them aware of relevant health messages in order to prevent disease and improve health. Julio Bravo was appointed Medical Chief of the service, on the bases of his experience in the area of anti-venereal propaganda 6.
During the years that followed, and in advance of the civil strife, the organism promoted poster competitions and made it obligatory for commercial screening halls to run health propaganda films, as testified by a new norm 7.
A series of health propaganda posters was distributed to advertise the struggle against infant mortality and an entire series of material was published stamps, post cards, posters, leaflets, instructions to inform the public of matters relating to mother-child health. To our knowledge, posters published with and without the help of the department covered other issues including: During the war, some posters were published, though they were not targeted towards the soldiers, promoting the use of anti-venereal services: