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What Have Been the Three Most Important Developments in Public Health Care During the Last 200 Years?

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What have been the three most important developments in public health care during the last 200 years?

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The focus of public health intervention is to improve health and quality of life through the prevention and treatment of disease (Winslow, Charles 1920 Jan 9). In my opinion, vaccines are one of the most important advances made in medicine over the last two hundred years. Dr. Jonas Salk developed the first successful Polio vaccine in 1952, and then began work on the AIDS vaccine. In addition to that, vaccines have been developed for Cholera, Influenza, Hepatitis A & B, the Bubonic Plague, Diphtheria, Polio, Measles, Mumps, Rabies, Typhoid, Pertussis, Rubella, and Meningococcal Meningitis. The current vaccine list available is much longer than that which I mentioned. These diseases may have killed more people in the past without the invention of these vaccines. The development of penicillin and other antibiotics saved millions (The Jungle, 1906).

Extensive research into the cardiovascular disease epidemic began in the 1940s following World War II. The first decade of the 21st Century brought a number of discoveries, mistakes, and medical advances that have influenced medicine from the patient's bedside to the medicine cabinet. Heart disease though has been the leading cause of death in the United States since 1921. The use of aspirin to prevent heart attacks was found to be a breakthrough to the prevention of strokes. Double and triple bypass surgery was unheard of back then, but is now an everyday occurrence. After that, heart disease deaths dropped by 40 percent. The reasons for the decline in heart disease and stroke may vary by period and region or socioeconomic groups. Prevention efforts and improvements in early detection, treatment, and care have resulted in a number of trends that are beneficial which may have contributed to the decline in heart disease. The reduction of smoking is also beneficial in the reduction of heart disease and blood pressure (US Department, "For a Health Nation", 1994). Early detection and better treatments have resulted in a 51% decrease in death rates for coronary heart disease since 1972. However, despite remarkable progress, heart disease and stroke remains leading causes of disability and death. Improving health is a shared responsibility of health providers, public health officials, and a variety of others in the community.

Public health is directed more toward communities instead of individuals by applying scientific and technical knowledge to prevent disease and promote health. In 1848, the Public Health Act (although repealed), was beneficial in improving public health and remains relevant today. It identified issues including poverty, housing, water, sewerage, the environment, safety, and food.

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