Entries - Entry Category: Medicine - Starting with P

Pellagra

Pellagra is a form of malnutrition caused by a severe deficiency of niacin (also known as nicotinic acid or vitamin B3) in the diet. The disease affected thousands of Arkansans and other Southerners in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Symptoms of pellagra can include lack of energy, outbreaks of red splotches on the skin, diarrhea, and—in extreme cases—depression, dementia, and even death. Pellagra is not contagious, and the condition can be reversed. The lethargic appearance of pellagra victims was also a symptom of two other diseases widely found in the South at the time, hookworm and malaria. These three contributed to the false stereotype of Southerners at this time as lazy. Pellagra was first recognized as a disease in 1762 …

Planned Parenthood

Through education, advocacy, and direct services, Planned Parenthood seeks to ensure healthy sexuality, family health, and access to high-quality sexual and reproductive healthcare. The topic of reproductive education and healthcare has long been a source for debate both nationally and in Arkansas. At the height of the Depression, Little Rock (Pulaski County) activist Hilda Cornish was convinced that the ability to limit family size could be crucial to a family’s financial survival. In February 1931, Cornish established the Little Rock Birth Control Clinic, the first such service in Arkansas. Services were provided at a minimal fee for any married woman whose family made less than $75 per month. Establishment of this clinic was met with public resistance; one woman wrote, …

Polio

The poliovirus terrorized the United States for many years, and Arkansas was no exception. Infection with the virus either went unnoticed or caused poliomyelitis, commonly called polio, which resulted in paralysis that sometimes ended in death but more often left its victims permanently handicapped. As the disease often affected children, it was also called infantile paralysis. While the large urban centers of the country dealt with polio epidemics early in the twentieth century, Arkansas had only a few intermittent cases. The Arkansas Gazette, however, reported frequently on the disease, keeping its readers informed of efforts to combat, cure, and curtail its devastating effects in other areas. After the first significant numbers were reported in the state, Arkansans reacted to the …

Public Health

Public health is a dynamic, interdisciplinary field with the goal of improving and maintaining the health and well-being of communities through education, the promotion of healthy behaviors and lifestyles, the creation of health-related government policy, and research on disease and injury prevention. In Arkansas, the field of public health has been active since territorial days, when infectious diseases such as malaria plagued the area. In the early days, efforts to improve sanitation, prevent the spread of disease, and treat the health problems of the public in Arkansas centered on diseases—particularly malaria, hookworm, polio, yellow fever, typhoid, and tuberculosis. In modern times, public health campaigns in Arkansas have moved toward a focus on chronic health problems such as obesity and diabetes. …

Pulaski County Medical Society

The Pulaski County Medical Society (PCMS), founded in 1866, is Arkansas’s largest and one of the state’s oldest county medical organizations for regular physicians (meaning those within the medical mainstream.) (Although sources identify the PCMS as the “first medical organization chartered by the state of Arkansas,” an earlier organization, known as the Crawford County Medical Society, was established in the early 1840s.) The PCMS supports physicians and promotes public health. In nineteenth-century America, regular physicians formed professional organizations to advocate for themselves. In 1866, a group of Little Rock (Pulaski County) physicians, including Philo Oliver Hooper and Roscoe G. Jennings, formed the Little Rock and Pulaski County Medical Society. The PCMS, whose members were required to be American Medical Association …