Healthier People: 20 Years of Public Health Achievements

Ingrid G. Hein

November 20, 2015

In This Article

Global Public Health

"We have made big advances in vaccination, safe water sanitation, and recognition of maternal education as key pieces of improving public health," says Omar Khan, who has authored four books in the area of global health. "Much of the work we have done in global health is founded on work that was done in the last 50 plus years."

"We have also been able to provide antiretroviral therapy for HIV. In these big areas, we have been able to make a big impact."

He says that maternal and infant mortality have been reduced. From 1990 to 2014, maternal deaths worldwide have dropped by 45%.[34] "We are better at resuscitation and managing postpartum hemorrhage and have made improvements in prenatal healthcare," says Khan.

Following a 1995 World Health Organization (WHO) strategy for tuberculosis control, the world is on track to reduce tuberculosis mortality to 50% of 1990 levels by 2015.[35]

"We also eradicated polio from all but four countries in the world as a result of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative," Khan says. Thanks to the international Roll Back Malaria program in sub-Saharan Africa, household ownership of insecticide-treated bed nets increased from 3% in 2000 to 42% in 2009, protecting approximately 75% of the at-risk population and reducing incidence rates by 25% globally and by 31% in the WHO African region.[36]

Khan says that one of the most profound societal changes in global health is increased global philanthropic interest in it. "Why would Bill Gates be talking about global health?" he asks.

As of March 2015, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has granted $33.5 billion in grant payments in large part to improve global health.[37] In November 2014, $500 million were committed to reduce malaria, pneumonia, diarrheal diseases, and parasitic infections, plus an additional $50 million to fight the Ebola epidemic.

"We saw the Clinton global initiative, the Jimmy Carter initiative, and the Hewlett Packard foundation," says Khan. "Information sharing and information transfer are changing the game."

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