The Chancellor of the University of Glasgow, Sir Kenneth Calman, recently celebrated 50 years in medicine.
To mark the event he has recorded highlights of his career in a new paper published in the Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, "Witnessing history: a personal view of half a century in public health".
The period from the 1960s to the new millennium was one of profound change in health and healthcare. The heavy burden of communicable disease was greatly reduced by effective preventive measures but has been supplanted by a growing problem of lifestyle-attributable disease, new treatments for diseases such as cancer offer hope where hitherto there had been none, and a predominantly hospital-based system gave way to an emphasis on community-based services. Familiar diseases such as influenza continued to present challenges, whilst radically new approaches were necessary to meet emerging threats such as HIV and vCJD.
After an early career in surgery and oncology, Sir Kenneth went on to be at the heart of all these public health challenges and developments during his time as Chief Medical Officer for Scotland and later England. This paper provides a uniquely personal and privileged glimpse into that world.
Accompanying the publication of the paper, the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, held a display which ran throughout May 2018 showcasing related documents, official reports and public information leaflets, as well as highlighting changes in the public perception of health with sweets and chocolate in the form of cigarettes and other smoking materials.
Bergman BP, Laing F, Chandler AS, Calman KCC. Witnessing history: a personal view of half a century in public health. Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh 2018; 48: 181-91 doi: 10.4997/JRCPE.2018.214