REVIEW – December 2008

120 years of sanitary inspection in Estonia


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The Estonian national sanitary inspection system was established 120 years ago when a station for food analysis was set up at the University of Tartu and positions for town sanitary physicians were nominated. In the Republic of Estonia (1920-1940) there was no special nationwide sanitary and epidemiological service. These functions were performed by municipalities. During the Soviet period the sanitary and epidemiological system existed in parallel with health care institutions. The main functions of this system were to follow-up the fulfilment of regulations and standards. The national surveillance system covered the following areas: food, water, air, housing, and children’s and social establishments, as well as working conditions and epidemiology of infectious diseases. After regaining independence, the Soviet sanitary system was transformed into Health Protection Service which is based on contemporary principles.