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History of Public Health

Essay by   •  September 17, 2012  •  Research Paper  •  926 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,862 Views

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Public health is defined as the prevention of disease, prolonging of life and the promotion of health through the collaborative efforts by public and private organizations, communities, and individuals (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2008). Public health agencies at the county, state, and national level are focused on improving the health of all Americans. The initiatives developed by these agencies have been an ongoing effort beginning as early as the 1600s. Public health and community health although similar in their initiatives differ in their focus as they relate to health. Public health is what society does collectively to ensure that conditions are ideal for the public to maintain health (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2008). Community health incorporates public health initiatives along with the personal health care of specific individuals within the community (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2008). Both forms of health initiatives have been, and continue to be instrumental in improving the health of all Americans.

The first public health initiative was created in England in 1601 with the Elizabeth Poor Law. The law was actually a collection of laws created to help the poor by providing food, money, and clothing (Bloy, 2008). In the United States the first public health department was established in Baltimore, Maryland in 1859, and is in existence today as a part of a nationwide group of agencies at the county and state level whose primary goal is protecting the health of all citizens (Baltimore County Department of Health, 2010). Since that time there have been many other milestones in public health. The American Public Health Association was established in 1872, The American Red Cross in 1881, and The Center for Disease Control was established in 1946. The American Public Health Association considers itself the oldest and most diverse organization of health professionals in the world (American Public Health Association, 2011). The APHA's mission is to protect all Americans and their communities from preventable health threats, and works to ensure that health promotion and disease prevention activities and preventative health services are accessible to all citizens (American Public Health Association, 2011). The American Red Cross was founded by Clara Barton and was established to provide both domestic and international disaster relief, help the United States military during the Spanish-American War, and incorporate peacetime relief work as a part of the International Red Cross Movement (American Red Cross, 2010). Today the American Red Cross' main purpose continues to be to provide disaster relief as well as providing communication between members of the United States armed forces and their families (American Red Cross, 2010). The Center for Disease Control began as the Communicable Disease Center in Atlanta, Georgia. In 1952 The CDC began working to combat biological warfare (CDC, 2010). In 1962 the CDC helped to eliminate smallpox, and in 1964 the CDC confirmed that cigarette smoke was directly linked to lung cancer (CDC, 2010). Since the beginning the CDC has been responsible for helping to identify a number of diseases that include, HIV/AIDS, SARS, tuberculosis,

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