It is very difficult to pick up the threads of a speech which has been truncated. Perhaps, it would be well for me to refer to one or two points which I made last night. The principal of these points was that, instead of concentrating on two or three big sanatoria, it would be better to have a larger number of smaller sanatoria — perhaps one for each county, or area, under the control of a county medical officer. If our efforts to eradicate this disease are successful — and we hope they will be —then the need for the larger sanatoria will not be pronounced. In fact, the two things are inversely related— the size of the sanatorium necessary and the educational campaign.
I should like to call the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary to an incident that happened nearly 30 years ago near the village of Fethard, in County Tipperary. A site was purchased for a sanatorium then. It has remained in the possession of the county authority since. Nothing has been done about it. Nearly 30 years ago, a nurse and medical officer were appointed for the sanatorium, which has not yet been built. The people of Tipperary with whom I am acquainted feel that some steps should be taken, and taken soon, to implement that scheme of nearly 30 years ago. Now, we find that a big regional scheme is contemplated. That will change the position considerably. Tipperary, measured inland, is 106 miles in the longest way, and if you associate Tipperary, Waterford, Kerry, and Cork you will create a problem as regards the sending of patients to the sanatorium to be situate in Cork. I think that the county medical officer should have some sort of institution under his control. He would, in that way, be able to centre the attention of the people of the immediate neighbourhood on this disease, and on the importance of its eradication.
I quite agree with previous speakers that the educational aspect of this question — the aspect with which I am particularly concerned — is, perhaps, the most important aspect. There is one point in relation to that matter to which I should like to call special attention. The county medical officer has informed me that the age at which young people normally enter the vocational schools — 14 years — and the time they remain there — from 14 to 16 or 17 years — is the most serious period as regards tubercular disease. It is curious that the Act under which schools are inspected — the Inspection of Schools (Medical Services) Act, 1919 — applies only to elementary schools. Students attending vocational schools may not be medically inspected under that Act. I draw the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary to the need for revision of that Act, so that young people attending vocational schools will, in future, be subject to medical inspection by the county medical officer. A good example of the importance of an educational campaign was furnished many years ago. I refer to the campaign organised by Lady Aberdeen. Many Senators will recall that considerable results followed from that campaign. Windows that had not been opened since the repeal of the window tax a couple of hundred of years ago were opened for the first time, and the importance of fresh air as a curative factor in the treatment of this disease was realised by a number of people. The campaign resulted, so far as I am aware, in a very considerable reduction in the incidence of the disease.
Considerable attention has been devoted to the position of the county medical officer of health. I suggest that, in addition to a county medical officer, there should be a county veterinary officer with somewhat similar powers. I agree with Senator O'Donovan that diseased milk is a very big factor in the spread of his disease. I know a district about 25 miles from here where a large number of people have suffered from tubercular disease of the bones. Many painful cases came under my notice in that connection. I am informed — the Parliamentary Secretary will correct me if I am wrong— that that is a form of the disease related to bad milk. It is unnecessary to emphasise the advantages which would accrue from the appointment of a county veterinary officer, not alone from the standpoint of the prevention of tubercular disease, but from the standpoint of the farmer anxious to rear healthy live-stock.
Inspection of dairies is allowed; in fact it is obligatory in a case where milk is being supplied to the towns. But those of us who are familiar with the country will remember the awful conditions under which the housing and milking of cows goes on. Many of us then are not surprised that this disease takes a grip in places which are never inspected. I wonder why a veterinary surgeon should not be allowed to inspect those places, even in cases where milk is not supplied to the towns. It is rather significant that we have this Bill dealing with the establishment of sanatoria, the Diseases of Animals Bill and the Mental Hospitals Bill, all coming together. I am informed that there is a very close relationship between mental and tubercular diseases, and so it would appear that the three Bills will help in this fight.
The educational campaign, in my opinion, is very important, and I agree with some speakers of last night who suggested that we do not fully utilise the services of the ordinary medical gentlemen throughout the country. One of the things that astonished me is that there does not appear to be any organised co-operation between the county medical officers and the various other medical officers throughout the country. If a small sum of money were set aside and the medical officers in the different parishes agreed to give a certain number of lectures to the young people attending the primary and vocational schools, and also a certain number of evening lectures, I imagine it would be a very important part of the educational campaign. Of course, the need for co-operation with the Minister for Education is obvious, but from my experience, when two or three different Departments are concerned, each Department sits tight, and wants to know for how much money the others are going to assume responsibility. That seems to be the great difficulty when we are trying to get co-operation between the Departments.
In the matter of co-operation, I should like to give one little example. Possibly the Parliamentary Secretary is already familiar with it. In Tipperary, we have in the vocational schools a number of those shelters to which I made reference last night, and I suggest that, in addition to their intrinsic value, they have the much more important value which comes from a realisation of the need for segregation. If an individual who is either developing the disease or has not fully recovered from it lives with the rest of the family, it is almost certain that everybody in that house will be wiped out sooner or later. Therefore, in my opinion, there is great advantage in arranging for the provision of those shelters. As the Local Security Force and the Local Defence Force appear to be about to be disbanded, it struck me that the members of those forces could do very valuable work for the country if they continued to give their services in the fight against this disease. I would also suggest that if many young people attending rural technical schools would agree to give their services free in the making of a sufficient number of those shelters, a considerable amount of good work would be done in the fight against this disease. Everybody has heard the Americanism about taking down the sidewalks, and I think we have all heard of those big training colleges, some of which turned out to be more or less white elephants. I suggest that if this educational propaganda is carried out extensively and thoroughly, which can only be done if a sufficient sum of money is set aside for the purpose, then the need for those big buildings which are to cost a considerable amount of money will not be nearly so great. I should like to see buildings of a type that could be expanded or contracted according to our needs. I would almost go as far as to say that I should like to see buildings of that type on wheels so that they could be moved from one part of the country to another.
I am afraid my remarks have been just a little bit disjointed. If I had been able to continue my observations last night I might have done better, but I think I have said enough to suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary some things which may require attention. I should like to say to him too that, if I appear to disagree with his big scheme, I am merely seeking to get his views. I realise that his information is far greater than I could ever hope to have, and I am putting up those suggestions about the county sanatoria so that he may see his way to explain the advantages of the big buildings. As I explained last night, I have been a member of a tuberculosis care committee for the past ten years. I think I have attended practically every meeting, and I can assure the House generally and the Parliamentary Secretary in particular that I am very keenly interested in this matter. A very dear relative of my own died of this disease, and so I have always taken a very great personal interest in the subject. My remarks, therefore, are intended to be of a constructive nature.