When I was growing up my teachers used to tell any kid who didn’t cover up their mouth when they sneezed that “coughs and sneezes spread diseases”. It was a lesson that had been drummed in to them as kids via health campaigns like the one above and, subsequently, into people like me. It’s a testament to how effective the campaign was that a kid growing up 30 years after it ran could still recite it.
The BBC has a great audio slideshow of images from a new book by Dr Laragh Gollogly from the World Health Organization that collects together health campaigns from around the world. They show how a mixture of emotion, whimsy, humour and just plain facts have been used to educate the public about health issues.
Some of these health issues are a thing of the past in the west now, but still rife in developing nations, along with other more modern ailments. The importance of health education through graphics and illustration, and of design developments in areas like textiles, interior and product design to combat disease, has never been more obvious than it is today.