by Kathryn Catney
GP Dr. John White, who is President of the Ulster Medical
Society, has published an article detailing the history of
infection and the set-up of dispensaries around the Lisburn area
in the 19th century. Dr. White used the article which appears in
the September edition of the Ulster Medical Journal as his
presidential address to the Society last Autumn.
'Infection in a village community in the 19th Century and the
development of the dispensary system' it explores the epidemic
diseases prevalent in Lisburn at the time, including Cholera,
Smallpox, Typhoid and Tuberculosis. It also details the
procedures set in place to combat their spread.
The article makes use of the parish death registers from the
Lisburn area and examines disease outbreaks throughout the
period 1800 to 1900.
It gives a detailed account of the
numbers infected and subsequent deaths. It also delves into the
changes in legislation and the establishment of local
infirmaries and dispensaries, including the Dunmurry Surgery
where Dr White currently works.
The GP has been a member of
the Ulster Medical Society since 1972, an organisation with over
It was founded in 1862 through an amalgamation
between the Belfast Medical Society and the Belfast Clinical and
Pathological Society. Its objective is to improve the care of
the sick by developing the education and knowledge of all
concerned in medical matters.
Dr. White was elected President
on October 10 last year and described the experience as "a great
honour and a surprise.
"It came out of the blue and I had to
consider if I would be fit to take the position," he said. "The
main role of the president is to set-up an academic programme
over the course of the year for the society."
article keeps in line with the objectives of the society as it
explores the improvement of care of the sick at a time in
Ireland when the health system was just emerging.
The GP was
born in Dunmurry and has lived in the area all his life.
graduated as a doctor from Queens University in 1970 and began
work at his family run practice, The Hill Surgery, in 1974.
His uncle and namesake, J.B. White was the dispensary doctor
back in 1927 and there has been a Dr White in the Dunmurry
Surgery ever since.
His older brother, Dr Dennis White also
practices at the award winning surgery and was Provost of the
Royal College of General Practitioners.
Dr White's enthusiasm
in history, fuelled by the collection of medical books and
supplies begun by his uncle in 1927 led to his investigation
into diseases and the health care system in the Lisburn area.