The goal of public health is the prevention of
heath crises through education and
Preventative measures, based on research,
are taken in order to avoid spreading
disease amongst a population.
Anything from water purification to
community sanitation departments
encompass the idea of “public health”.
At the Federal, State, and Local levels,
implementation of Public Health initiatives
should be a primary concern (Williams and
While the United States spends more on
health care than any other nation in the
world, it lags behind many developed nations
in important health measures (APHA, n.d.).
For example, doctors frequently treat diseases
related to poor diet and exercise, obesity,
smoking, HIV/AIDS, etc.
Instead of treating the symptoms, the focus
should be on educating the public on SAFETY
The History of Public Health
Hippocrates (460 BC-380 BC)
is often considered the father of
Western medicine, and was the
first widely recognized figure to
recognize the need for public
“We must also consider the
qualities of the waters and the
mode in which the inhabitants live,
and what are their pursuits,
whether they are fond of drinking
and eating to excess and given to
indolence, or are fond of exercise
and labor, and not given to excess
in eating and drinking” (Public
health timeline, n.d.).
1798- Marine Hospital Service
Created to address health issues concerning
maritime trade, such as scurvy and yellow
fever, it later became the US Public Health
Service (Public health timeline, n.d.)
1863- New York Sanitation Movement
New York is the first state to conduct a
sanitation survey, examining the poor living
conditions of those in the city (Public health
1872- American Public Health Assn.
Foundation of the APHA. Now the oldest
and largest association of public health
professionals in the world (Public health
In the early 20th century,
EPIDEMICS struck America,
and took a painful toll on the
1909- Bubonic Plague in
San Francisco, CA finally
diminishes after causing
many deaths (Public
health timeline, n.d.).
1918- Influenza outbreak
Events like this led to
implementation of public
health standards by the
national government to
prevent the spread of
kills over 600,000 people
and does not subside until
the 1950s (Public health
For a complete timeline, utilize this link:
Why is this a concern of public health? Higher mortality rates
occur when children are forced to work. Employee safety and
health is also compromised.
Developmental risk factors for children include:
Rapid skeletal growth
Development of organs and tissues
Greater risk of hearing loss
Developing ability to assess risks
Greater need for food and rest
Higher chemical absorption rates
Lower heat tolerance
The National Child Labor Committee’s work to end child labor was
combined with efforts to provide free, compulsory education for all
children, and culminated in the passage of the Fair Labor
Standards Act in 1938, which set federal standards for child labor
(Health issues, n.d.).
Margaret Sanger (18791966) published two
knowledge “every woman
should know” about
menstruation and sexual
tendencies (Public health
She also highly advocated
the use of birth control.
This was the first step
toward women’s health
In 1946, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) was established in Atlanta.
Just two short years later, in 1948, many North
American municipalities began to add fluoride
ions to the public water supply (Public health
Not only did this action reduce the overall tooth
decay of the population, but it proved that
improving public health was beneficial to
everyone- improving the quality of life, not just
the health, of Americans.
In 1964, Surgeon General Luther Terry
released the first Report on Smoking and
Health, which was the first government
publication concerning the negative
effects of smoking on one’s health.
In the last 50 years, 31 Surgeon General’s
Reports have been released. We now
know that smoking causes a host of
cancers and other illnesses and is still the
leading preventable cause of death in the
United States, killing 443,000 people each
year (Tobacco, n.d.).
Vaccines may be one of the most controversial movements associated
with government implemented public health initiatives.
However…Programs of population-wide
vaccinations resulted in:
The Eradication of Smallpox
Elimination of Polio in the Americas
Control of measles, rubella, tetanus,
diphtheria, and other infectious diseases
in the United States and other parts of the
world (What is public health?, n.d.).
In the 20th Century
Courtesy of www.whatispublichealth.org.
In the 20th century, the rate of
people who smoked dropped
from 45% in 1965 to 19% in
2010 (APHA, n.d.).
Vaccines, such as the flu shot,
have drastically decreased the
occurrence of epidemics.
Every dollar spent on
prevention saves about $5.60
in health care costs (APHA,
The amount of money spent by
the government to promote
public health is still very low
compared to the money spent
of treating preventable
diseases, such as obesity,
heart disease and diabetes.
Natural disaster, terrorism,
population control, and drug
misuse are areas of public
health that have yet to be
addressed (Williams and
Minimal investment is no longer going to work. The dramatic
increase in life expectancy achieved through public health efforts
contributes to one of the greatest challenges facing our health
care system and public health — an aging population (The future
of public health, n.d.).
Public health is a sleeping giant. Its ability to make
significant strides in the future is unlimited,
provided we muster the political will to support it
(The future of public health, n.d.).
The Role of Public Health
in America is critical to the
health and prosperity of
our nation in the future. It
is our job to promote all
aspects of preventative
health care to lessen costs
of treatment and increase
awareness of disease.
APHA: American Public Health Association. (n.d.). APHA: American Public Health
Association. Retrieved February 18, 2014, from
Google Images (2014). The most comprehensive image on the web. Retrieved
February 12, 2014 from http://images.google.com/
Health issues. (n.d.). The child labor education project. Retrieved February 19,
2014, from http:
Public health timeline. (n.d.). The North Carolina institute for public health. Retrieved
February 19, 2014, from http://www.sphtc.org/timeline/
The future of public health. (n.d.). Center for Disease Control and
Prevention. Retrieved February 19, 2014, from http://
Tobacco. (n.d.). Surgeon General. Retrieved February 19, 2014, from
What is public health?. (n.d.). What is public health?. Retrieved February 19,
2014, from http://www.whatispublichealth.org/
Williams, S. J., & Torrens, P. R. (2008). Introduction to health services. New York:
Delmar, Cengage Learning.