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TOP TEN PUBLIC

HEALTH ACHIEVEMENTS
IN THE 20TH CENTURY
1. Vaccines
The first vaccine, created by Dr. Edward Jenner in 1796, was for smallpox. Today there are
vaccines for an array of diseases. The two most significant vaccinations are for pneumococcal
conjugate vaccine and the rotavirus. A recent study indicates that vaccinating every child born
in the United State prevent approximately 42,000 deaths and 20 million cases of disease.

2. Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases


Control for infectious disease started with a push for sanitary reforms
in the mid-19th century. The hygienic movement started by cleaning
up urban slums and sewage. This help control disease such diarrhea
and diphtheria which were leading causes of deaths. The discovery of
antibiotics in the 1940s revolutionized medical care for infectious diseases.

3. Recognition of Tobacco as a Health Hazard


Addictions such as tobacco have negative physical and emotional effects on
the user as well as their family, friends, and the community at large.
Tobacco use also creates an economic burden due of approximately
$193 billion a year due to medical costs and lost productivity.

4. Maternal and Infant Health


Over the century, infant and maternal mortality rates have
significantly declined. The decline is attributed to public health
interventions such as improvements in nutrition, higher living
standards, and improved surveillance and monitoring of disease.

5. Motor Vehicle Safety


Although motor vehicle accidents are still a major death and expected to be the third leading
cause of death, especially in developing countries where almost 90% of
accidents happen, major improvements in safety have occurred over the
20th century. Safety improvements include shatterproof glass on all
cars, the speedometer and speed limits, electric headlamps, seatbelts
and airbags, and improved dummies in crash testing.

TOP TEN PUBLIC


HEALTH ACHIEVEMENTS
IN THE 20TH CENTURY
6. Cardiovascular Disease Protection
Cardiovascular disease is still a top leading cause of death, but the deaths
of both are declining. The decline of cardiovascular disease can be
attributed to decreasing smoking rates and improved treatment, medication, and quality of care. These trends reduce major risk factors such as
high blood pressure and cholesterol.

7. Occupational Safety
Particularly in the Unite States, work-relate injuries and deaths have
declined significantly over the 20th century. Improved working
conditions as well as safety policies such as patient lifting guidance
have been crucial elements in the improvement of occupational safety.

8. Cancer Prevention
Improved public health policies such as strong screening recommendation
and awareness campaigns have led to improvements in cancer prevention.
Increase prevention has led to a 2-3% reduction in deaths per year in
colorectal, breast, and cervical cancer.

9. Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention


In 1980, 88.2% of children aged 1-5 years had elevated blood lead
levels. This is significantly decreased to under 1% in 2008. The
drastic reduction can be attributed to comprehensive lead
poisoning prevention laws and federal laws that reduce hazards
in high risk housing.

10. Improved Public Health Preparedness and Response


There have been many advances in public health preparedness and
response, especially in the later half of the century. Laboratory response,
for example, has had improvements in the identification and reporting of
disease outbreaks. During the H1N1 outbreak in 2009, public health
measures prevented approximately 5-10 million cases.
Sources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Pfizer

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