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The Important Public Health Developments During the Last 20 Years

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The Important Public Health Care Developments during the Last 200 Years

Michael K. Kivuva

Uvocorp

The field of public health has witnessed many changes over the past two centuries. The transformations have been fueled by various scientific innovations which have helped to reduce the prevalence of infectious diseases. Technological advancements have also led to various developments. The developments that have occurred in this field include improved sanitation and hygiene, vaccination, and improved methods of detection of diseases. These developments have led to the formulation of policies, public health programs and health promotion campaigns that have helped to control infectious diseases.

In the 19th century, industrialization encouraged people to migrate from rural to urban areas as they searched for opportunities in the industrialized centers. This shift led to overcrowding which created various public health concerns. The overcrowded areas had poorly built houses that lacked proper sewerage drainage systems. Moreover, they did not have clean water supply systems. These shortcomings led to frequent outbreaks of diseases like cholera, typhoid fever, malaria, dysentery and yellow fever. However, various public health interventions that started in 1900 helped to overcome these challenges. In the first half of the 20th century, most local and state governments set up infrastructure for sewage disposal and clean water supply to homes. Moreover, water for domestic use was being treated by chlorination. This led to a reduction in the prevalence of disease outbreaks and water borne diseases. During the same period, aggressive animal and pest control measures were set up. These led to a decline in diseases like malaria, dengue fever and rabies (Center for Disease Control [CDC], 1999).

According to CDC, vaccination measures have been fundamental in the promotion of public health care over the past two centuries (1999). Vaccination programs have led to eradication of some common diseases that had posed challenges to professionals in the field of public health. Examples of these vaccines include a combination of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine that was introduced in 1949, and the poliovirus vaccine that was introduced in 1955. Some of the diseases that have been controlled as a result of vaccination programs include poliomyelitis, smallpox, tetanus, measles and diphtheria. The success of vaccination programs in North America and Europe led to global adoption of these programs in the second half of the 20th century. This led to worldwide eradication of smallpox in 1977 and eradication of polio in 2000 (CDC, 1999). These were important public health achievements.

Technological innovations have also contributed to changes in public health care. They have improved the process of detection, diagnosis, and surveillance of infectious diseases by coming up with new ways to monitor them. These innovations include serological tests, tissue culture, and molecular methods that can amplify DNA. Serological tests started being used in 1910, and they became important in the diagnosis of syphilis and gonorrhea which were major public health concerns before this period (CDC, 1999). Tissue culture techniques started being used in 1900. Since then, they have been used to identify the causative organisms of diseases so as to give appropriate drugs. Molecular methods for DNA amplification started being used in the second half of the 20th century (CDC, 1999). They have helped in the diagnosis of many viral diseases. Other important technological innovations include computers and information technology. They have improved public health care by facilitating analysis, surveillance and dissemination of public health information (Walley & Wright, 2010).

Public health care today is different from how it was 200 years ago. The observed changes are because of scientific and technological innovations that have helped to improve the quality of health care in this field. These developments include improved sanitation, vaccination programs and improved ways of detecting diseases (CDC, 1999).

References

Center for Disease Control (CDC). (1999). Achievements in public health, 1900-1999: Control

of infectious diseases. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/

mm4829a1.htm.

Walley, J., & Wright, J. (2010). Public health: an action guide to improving health. Oxford:

Oxford University Press.

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