At first the government tried - as the Romans had done - to prevent illness among the population by public sanitation measures.
The first public health measures were based upon the idea that miasmas caused disease. Although the idea was wrong, the measures against the miasmas involved a greater focus on cleanliness, and this improved public health.
Further measures included:
The benefits of these measures soon became clear, and by the late 19th century local councils were competing with each other to provide the best public health.