Public Health Programs Have ‘Improved People’s Lives’ Despite ‘Long-Standing’ Problems, Opinion Piece Says
Public health policies made over the past 50 years have "improved peoples' lives, particularly in the developing world," according to a recent report from the Center for Global Development, Cesar Chelala, an international medical consultant, writes in a Seattle Post-Intelligencer opinion piece. The report describes several "successful" public health programs worldwide, including Thailand's government-sponsored HIV/AIDS prevention initiative aimed at commercial sex workers, which resulted in an 80% decrease in the number of new HIV cases among high-risk groups in the country between 1991 and 2001, Chelala says. Other countries' programs -- including vaccination campaigns and diarrhea and tuberculosis control programs -- also have resulted in "dramatic improvements in people's health," Chelala writes, adding that these initiatives "have worked even in the poorest countries, in spite of poverty and weak national health systems" because of "well-targeted and efficiently managed programs." For such programs to be successful, the "technical expertise" of the World Health Organization must be "supported by predictable, adequate funding" so that the agency can coordinate international and national organizations, Chelala says. The availability of new technologies, "[g]ood management on the ground" and "trained and motivated health workers" also are "crucial" elements of public health programs, Chelala writes. As long as "these lessons continue to be applied in the developing world, the possibilities that future generations will be healthier and more productive will also increase," even though "long-standing problems remain and new ones threaten the health of future generations," Chelala concludes (Chelala, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 1/6).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.