Health education in France during the interwar period:

an example of the fight against tuberculosis

Since the 1890s, in Europe, as in the United States, the fight against social disasters has comprised public health education. In France, the prevalence of tuberculosis was of particular concern. Back in 1913, the mortality from this cause accounted for 12% of the total mortality. The war has worsened the epidemiological situation, urging representatives of the American philanthropic Rockefeller Foundation to take a number of actions. From 1917 to 1922, in parallel with the creation of dispensaries and sanatoriums, the Foundation conducted an informational and educational campaign. In France during the interwar period, this American experience served as a source of ideas for health education.

The purpose of this article is to study conditions for developing a health education policy and measures taken within the framework of this policy. The fight against tuberculosis serves as an example, since it enables understanding of how, alongside institutional innovations and introduction of prevention and care tools, a system of public health education is being created and developed. In particular, campaigns for distributing anti-tuberculosis stamps make it possible to trace how knowledge of hygiene principles was spreading in the population of France, simultaneously providing fundraising for the fight against tuberculosis.