Public Health's Top 10 List

Public health has been responsible for the improvement of both the quantity and quality of our lives. Since 1900, the average lifespan of Americans has increased by more than 30 years; 25 years of this increase are attributable to advances in public health.
The Centers for Disease Control released in 1999 "Ten Great Public Health Achievements in the 20th Century":

1. Vaccination
 - Eradication of smallpox worldwide
 - Elimination of polio in America
 - Control of measles, rubella, and other infectious diseases

2. Motor-vehicle safety
 - Increased use of safety belts
 - Improvements in car and highway engineering 
 - Decreased drinking and driving
 - Creation of child safety seats and motorcycle helmets 

3. Safer workplaces
 - Significant reduction in coal workers pneumoconiosis (black lung)
 - Significant reduction in injuries and deaths related to construction, mining, manufacturing, and transportation 

4. Control of infectious diseases
 - Clean water and better sanitation
 - Discovery of antimicrobial therapy to control disease such as tuberculosis and sexually transmitted diseases

5. Decline in deaths from coronary heart disease and stroke
 - Creation of risk-factor modification (smoking cessation, early detection, healthy eating, benefits of exercise, improved access to treatment)

6. Safer and healthier foods

 - Near elimination of nutritional deficiency diseases such as rickets, goiter, and pellagra in the United States
 - Decrease in contamination, increase in nutritional content, and establishment of food-fortification programs 

7. Healthier mothers and babies
 - Better hygiene and nutrition
 - Availability of antibiotics, greater access to health care
 - Improvements in neonatal medicine

8. Family planning
 - Access to family planning and contraceptive services
 - Fewer child and maternal deaths
 - Use of contraceptives to prevent pregnancy and STDs

9. Fluoridation of drinking water
 - Prevention of tooth decay and tooth loss

10. Recognition of tobacco use as a health hazard
 - Promotion of smoking cessation
 - Reduction of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke
 - Millions of smoking-related deaths have been prevented

*Information taken from