The future for public health

Fleming, Mary-Lou (2011) The future for public health. In Fleming, Mary Louise & Parker, Elizabeth (Eds.) Introduction to Public Health [2nd ed.]. Elsevier Australia/Churchill Livingstone, Chatswood, NSW, pp. 373-387.

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What is the future for public health in the twenty first century? Can we glean an idea about the future of public health from its past? As Winston Churchill once said ‘the further backward you look, the further forward you can see’. What then can we see in the history of public health that gives us an idea of where public health might be headed in the future?

In the twentieth century there was substantial progress in public health in Australia. These improvements were brought about through a number of factors. In part, improvements were due to improved knowledge about the natural history of disease and its treatment. Added to this knowledge was a shifting focus from legislative measures to protect health, to the emergence of improved promotion and prevention strategies and a general improvement in social and economic conditions for people living in countries like Australia. The same could not, however, be said for poorer countries, many of whom have the most fundamental of sanitary and health protection issues still to deal with. For example, in sub-Saharan Africa and Russia, the decline in life expectancy may be an aberration or it may be related to a range of interconnected factors. In Russia, factors such as alcoholism, violence, suicide, accidents and cardiovascular disease could be contributing to the falling life expectancy (McMichael & Butler 2007). In sub-Saharan Africa, a range of issues such as HIV/AIDS, poverty, malaria, tuberculosis, undernutrition, totally inadequate infrastructure, gender inequality, conflict and violence, political taboos and a complete lack of political will, have all contributed to a dramatic drop in life expectancy (McMichael & Butler 2007).

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ID Code: 47732
Item Type: Book Chapter
Keywords: public health worker , public health
ISBN: 9780729540919
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Public Health and Health Services not elsewhere classified (111799)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2011 Elsevier Australia
Deposited On: 13 Dec 2011 22:38
Last Modified: 18 Dec 2011 04:56

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