Who was Dr Edward Swarbreck Hall MRCS LSA (1804-1881)?
Dr Edward Swarbreck Hall was a great humanitarian, deeply concerned for the welfare of his fellow citizens and the environment.
Dr Hall emigrated to Hobart Town in 1831, where he found employment as a government medical officer and was transferred to various rural districts.
In 1853, he returned to Hobart as resident house surgeon at the hospital. His tasks included ministering to the health needs of the prison establishments in Hobart.
Appalled by the high infant mortality rate at the Cascades female prison, Dr Hall wrote highly critical comments in the press. Despite achieveing many worthwhile reforms, he was forced to resign in 1855 due to his controversial attitudes. He took up private practice in Hobart.
In 1863, Dr Hall was appointed Superintendent of Vaccination of the colony, but this position was abolished some three years later although Dr Hall continued to discharge the duties gratuitously. He continued to speak out for compulsory vaccinations against diseases such as smallpox, which was finally realised through an Act of Parliament, after his death.
From 1875 to 1880 he was appointed by the Government as Health Officer. His outspoken annual reports stressed the dangers of polluted water supply, which carried diseases such as diphtheria and typhoid. His reputation continued to grow, both in the colonies and in Europe, as he conducted research into sanitation, public health and nutrition. Dr Hall published many articles, advocating reform and remedial measures. One of his greatest legacies to Hobart was the introduction of a sewerage system that would prevent the pollution of the River Derwent.
Dr Hall died at the age of 76 on 30 July, 1881.
Dr Edward Hall was a man who acted solely from a sense of duty and was uninfluenced by private or personal considerations often to the detriment of his career.