Public health complex

Public health is an under appreciated service, with “far more value per dollar than with most other types of health care spending,” according to a detailed summary written by Aaron E. Carroll is a professor of pediatrics and Austin Frakt a health economist. The theme is well known: public health initiatives (such as anti-smoking commercials, food safety inspections, and vaccination programs) save more lives than most sickness-focused programs. “The key to better health isn’t always to build more hospitals and train more specialists,” says former surgeon general Vivek Murthy. There is no doubt this is the case. And we could do more by “... addressing things we know that kill.” This New York times article came out around the same time as a research article with unexpected and facinanting results on the same topic: the United States is pretty effective in its public health work. “The United States spends more than nearly all [developed] nations on prevention, both on a per-capita basis and as a percentage of overall health spending.” And the results have been impressive in many areas, including reduced smoking, reduced drunk driving, fluoridated water, and mandatory vaccination programs. Surprisingly, some European nations such as UK and France decided after World War II to focus sickness care instead of prevention and public health. These articles call out the power of focused, cost-effective programs that target major causes of disability and death and expose the tradeoffs with spending more on curative care that touches relatively few.

Read: What the experts want us to know about public health

Read: A cross-national study - American is no slouch in public health

Read: How to Prioritize and Save Young Lives

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