The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have named the top 10 public health achievements of the last decade. They include controlling infectious diseases like AIDS and tuberculosis; fighting tobacco use; improving motor-vehicle safety by having safer vehicles, roads and driving; reducing heart disease and death; and improving public safety preparedness following Sept. 11, 2001.
“Americans are living longer, healthier and more productive lives than ever before thanks in part to extraordinary achievements in public health over the past decade,” CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden said in a press release. “Continued investments in prevention will help us and our children live even longer, healthier and more productive lives while bringing down health care costs.”
The report shows the improvements have saved billions of dollars nationwide. Fortifying food with folic acid, which reduced neural tube defects like spina bifida, has alone resulted in a savings of $4.6 billion in the past 10 years. Preventing motor vehicle crashes could save $99 billion in medical and lost work costs each year. Preventing lead exposure in children could save $213 billion each year.
While tobacco control has advanced nationally, and Kentucky’s smoking rate has dropped slightly, the state continues to lead the nation in tobacco use, at 25 percent of adults. While about two dozen Kentucky communities have passed smoke-free laws, a statewide ban has never gotten anywhere in the legislature. The number of states with comprehensive smoke-free laws increased from zero in 2000 to 25 states (plus Washington, D.C.) in 2010.
Motor vehicle safety has improved, a trend that has been noted in Kentucky. The number of traffic-related fatalities in Kentucky has decreased for the past six years. In 2010, 759 people died on Kentucky roads compared to 791 the year before. This year so far, 220 people have died in traffic-related accidents compared to 237 last year. Nationwide, the death rate related to motor vehicle accidents went from 14.9 per 100,000 people in 2000 to 11 per 100,000 in 2009. (Read more)