Student Health Services gets involved in all sorts of disease outbreak announcements, vaccine information, and health awareness activities and serves as the public health agency for issues that impact students. We work with experts from the OSU Medical Center, Columbus Public Health, the Franklin County Board of Health, the Ohio Department of Health and even the CDC!
So, how healthy is our “public”? The 20th century brought a nearly 30-year increase in life expectancy, and dramatic decreases in infectious diseases. Now that we are 10 years into the 21st century, are we still making progress? The CDC asked their public health experts to rank this past decade’s top achievements – here are the ones that most impact health on campus:
Vaccine-Preventable Diseases – we are now up to 17 different diseases covered by our childhood and adult immunization programs, preventing 42,00 deaths and 20 million illnesses each year for children born from 2001 to present.
Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases – Tuberculosis cases have dropped 30%, and certain infections that can occur in hospitals have decreased 58%. We are also seeing more rapid detection of diseases like HIV and West Nile virus.
Tobacco Control – The number of current smokers found in youth surveys decreased from 35% to 19% this decade, although this trend has slowed in the last few years. State-wide comprehensive smoke-free laws that prohibit smoking in worksites, restaurants, and bars did not exist in the US in 2000, but that number increased to 25 states and the District of Columbia (DC) by 2010.
Motor Vehicle Safety – even though we drove our motor vehicles more in 2010 than in 2000, death and injury rates due to crashes, and the number of pedestrians and bicyclists killed all decreased. This is largely due to safer cars and roads, along with seat belt and child car seat laws.
Cardiovascular Disease Prevention – These top killers each decreased by about a third in this decade, associated with better control of blood pressure and cholesterol, less smoking, and better treatments.
Public Health Preparedness and Response – 9/11 provided many lessons about preparedness, and now the public health system can respond more rapidly to new threats, like the H1N1 flu and the cholera outbreak in Haiti.
Due to these and other health interventions, the death rate in the United States declined from 881.9 per 100,000 population to 741.0 in the past ten years, a record low. Want more detailed analysis? Visit the CDC’s Ten Great Public Health Achievements — United States, 2001–2010.
Roger Miller, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University