Ten great public health achievements--United States, 2001-2010
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Ten great public health achievements--United States, 2001-2010

  • May 20, 2011

  • Source: MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2011 May 20;60(19):619-23.
Filetype[PDF-171.46 KB]

  • English

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      10 great public health achievements--United States, 2001-2010
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      Deaths from infectious Diseases have declined markedly in the United States during the 20th century (Figure 1). This decline contributed to a sharp drop in infant and child Mortality (1,2) and to the 29.2-year increase in life expectancy (2). In 1900, 30.4% of all deaths occurred among children aged less than 5 years; in 1997, that percentage was only 1.4%. In 1900, the three leading causes of death were pneumonia, Tuberculosis (TB), and diarrhea and enteritis, which (together with diphtheria) caused one third of all deaths (Figure 2). Of these deaths, 40% were among children aged less than 5 years (1). In 1997, heart disease and cancers accounted for 54.7% of all deaths, with 4.5% attributable to pneumonia, influenza, and human immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection (2). Despite this overall progress, one of the most devastating epidemics in human History occurred during the 20th century: the 1918 influenza pandemic that resulted in 20 million deaths, including 500,000 in the United States, in less than 1 year--more than have died in as short a time during any war or famine in the world (3). HIV infection, first recognized in 1981, has caused a pandemic that is still in progress, affecting 33 million people and causing an estimated 13.9 million deaths (4). These episodes illustrate the volatility of infectious disease death rates and the unpredictability of disease emergence.

      Public health action to control infectious Diseases in the 20th century is based on the 19th century discovery of microorganisms as the cause of many serious Diseases (e.g., cholera and TB). Disease control resulted from improvements in sanitation and hygiene, the discovery of antibiotics, and the implementation of universal childhood vaccination programs. Scientific and technologic advances played a major role in each of these areas and are the foundation for today's disease Surveillance and control systems. Scientific findings also have contributed to a new understanding of the evolving relation between humans and microbes (5).

    • Content Notes:
      Vaccine-Preventable Diseases -- Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases -- Tobacco Control -- Maternal and Infant Health -- Motor Vehicle Safety -- Cardiovascular Disease Prevention -- Occupational Safety -- Cancer Prevention -- Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention -- Public Health Preparedness and Response -- Conclusion.
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