Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Article Comments

From The CDC: Top Ten Greatest Public Health Achievements

The Center for Disease Control published the top ten public health achievements from 2001-2010, the first decade of the 21st century.  In no order they are:

  • Vaccine-preventable Diseases – new vaccines for herpes zoster, pneumonia, HPV and rotavirus have saved thousands of lives  When you add in the older vaccines for diptheria, pertussus, tetanus and measles/mumps millions of lives have been saved around the world.  (I saw diptheria in Haiti and it is horrible)

  • Tobacco Control- We have been battling tobacco since 1964 but there is finally progress with more states enacting smoke-free laws and raising cigarette taxes.  By 2010, the FDA banned flavored cigarettes and established restrictions on youth access.  We have a long way to go.  Smoking costs us all about $193 billion a year on medical costs and loss of productivity.


  • Motor Vehicle Safety -Enforcing seat belt and child safety legislation has reduced deaths from crashes.  Teen drivers have new policies too.
  • Cardiovascular Disease Prevention-During the past decade, age-adjusted heart disease and stroke deaths declined.  What worked? Treating hypertension, elevated cholesterol and smoking…along with improved treatment and medication.

  • Occupational Safety- Farm safety, crab fishing safety, patient lifting in hospitals, workplace associated injury have all improved over the last decade from improving working conditions.  OSHA regulations have helped workers.




  • Cancer Screening- Screening for colorectal cancer, breast and cervical cancer have reduced cancer death rates over the past decade.

  • Public Health Preparedness and Response- The terrorist acts of 2001 kicked this country into gear and tremendous improvements have been made in public health threats.  Even the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic was handled well due to increased surveillance and response.
  • Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention-We don’t think of this much anymore but in 2000 childhood lead poisoning was a huge public health issue, especially for children living in poverty.  By 2010, 23 states had laws that prevented lead poisoning.  The question is why not all 50 states?
  • Maternal and Infant Health-We actually do not perform well on maternal and infant health compared to other Western nations, but we have made strides in the number of infants born with neural tube defects (thanks to folic acid prenatal vitamins) and improvement in newborn screening for hearing loss and other disorders.
  • Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases- Tuberculosis cases dropped by 30% and there has been a 58% decline in catheter related blood stream infections.  We are able to identify contaminated food rapidly and HIV screening has improved throughout the decade.  Did you know that in 2004, canine rabies was eliminated in the United States?

Although we hate the idea of big brother telling us how to live our lives, the fact is that encouraging healthy behavior through taxation or by shaping it through regulations actually works to create a healthier population.  It also saves billions of dollars in public cost.

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*


You may also like these posts

Read comments »


Comments are closed.

Return to article »

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »