We all know that this country has a system of doctors and hospitals to take care of us when we get sick. What many people don't know is that there also is a system that keeps us healthy. It works in the ways that we aren't usually aware of. It's the public health system. Everyday you see headlines about public health in the newspaper. But you probably don't even recognize that the headlines reflect a public health system at work. Public health protects you and keeps you and your loved ones safe and healthy. Everyday. Day after day.
There are several public health measures that need to be actively engaged in order to help reform health care in America. Public health measures focus on the population, sanitation, disease control, infant mortality, nutrition, occupational health, and environmental health.
Modern sanitation was one of the greatest public health accomplishments of the late 19th and early 20th century. Contamination of drinking water supplies by human waste is a cause of many deadly infectious diseases, including cholera, dysentery, typhoid fever. It remains a problem in undeveloped countries, and we all witnessed the great concern about disease when the December, 2004 tsunami wiped out sanitation systems in Sri Lanka and Indonesia.
The nation's public health system continues to provide proper waste disposal and safe drinking water. These are prime examples of how public health, which take care of one person at a time. Public health works to keep entire populations healthy, and when it fails, entire populations suffer.
Hopefully, you go to your dentist regularly and follow directions to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Flouridation of the public drinking water supply, which began in 1945, is a major public health accomplishment. It has resulted in a 40-70% reduction of tooth decay in children and a 40-60% reduction in tooth loss in adults. However, 40% of the U.S. population, still live in areas without a fluoridated water supply.
After you dressed, did you stop for breakfast? Did you have orange juice, or perhaps scrambled eggs, or maybe a bagel with cream cheese? The only reason you can be sure that your orange juice, eggs and cream cheese are not contaminated with bacteria that would make you sick is that public health regulates the safety of your food supply. We also teach and promote safe food handling practices that kill bacteria and help you and those who handle your food from contaminating it.
Sometimes, despite everybody's best efforts, outbreaks of disease caused by contaminated food occur. The public health system then does detective work to find the source of the contamination and to stop it. We apply the methods of epidemiology to learn what the sick people have in common and locate the source of the contamination. Then we make sure that all contaminated food is removed from the supply.
Did you have cereal for breakfast? If you are a woman who might become pregnant, your cereal, fortified...