Identify Multiple Ways That Public Health Affects Daily Life: Public Health Assignment, OBU, UK

University Oxford Brookes University (OBU)
Subject Public Health

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this chapter, the student will be able to:

1.  identify multiple ways that public health affects daily life.

2.  define eras of public health from ancient times to the present.

3.  define the meaning of “population health.”

4.  illustrate the uses of health care, traditional public health, and social interventions in population health.

5.  identify a range of determinants of disease.

6.  identify ways that populations change over time and how this affects health.

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I woke up this morning, got out of bed, and went to the bathroom. There I used the toilet, washed my hands, brushed and flossed my teeth, drank a glass of water, and took my blood pressure medicine, cholesterol medication, and an aspirin. Then I did my exercises and took a shower. On the way to the kitchen, I didn’t even notice the smoke detector I passed or the old ashtrays in the closet. I took a low-fat yogurt out of the refrigerator and prepared hot cereal in the microwave oven for my breakfast.

Then I walked out my door into the crisp, clean air and got in my car. I put on my seat belt, saw the light go on for the airbag, and safely drove to work. I got to my office, where I paid little attention to the new defibrillator at the entrance, the “no smoking” signs, or the absence of asbestos. I arrived safely in my well-ventilated office and got ready to teach Public Health 101. It wasn’t a very eventful morning, but then it’s all in a morning’s work when it comes to public health.

This rather mundane morning is made possible by a long list of achievements that reflect the often-ignored history of public health.1 We take for granted the fact that water chlorination, hand washing, and indoor plumbing largely eliminated the transmission of common bacterial diseases, which for centuries killed the young and not so young. Do not overlook the impact of prevention on our teeth and gums. Teeth brushing, flossing, and fluoridation of water have made a dramatic impact on the dental health of children and adults.

The more recent advances in the prevention of heart disease have been a major public health achievement. Preventive successes include the reduction of blood pressure and cholesterol, cigarette smoking prevention and cessation efforts, the use of low-dose aspirin, an understanding of the role of exercise, and the widespread availability of defibrillators. These can be credited with at least half of the dramatic reductions in heart disease that have reduced the death rate from coronary artery disease by approximately 50% in the United States and most other developed countries in the last half-century.

The refrigerator was one of the most important advances in food safety, which illustrates the impact of social change and innovation not necessarily intended to improve health. Food and product safety are public health achievements that require continued attention. It was public pressure for food safety that in large part brought about the creation of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The work of this public health agency continues to affect all of our lives from the safety of the foods we eat to the drugs and cosmetics we use.

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