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Public health, a return on your investment

St. Croix County Public Health is celebrating National Public Health week April 1-7th. Recognition that the life expectancy of persons residing in the United States improved dramatically during the 20th century by more than 30 years;  25 of those years are recognized as advances in Public Health.

Communities nationwide have joined together to celebrate National Public Health Week. This year the theme is “Public Health is Return On Investment; it Save Lives and Saves Money.”  Supporting evidence-based public health programs will result in healthier communities and reduced cost in treating diseases.”

Do you know that investments in public health systems coincide with improvements in health, especially in children’s health?    The top ten achievements of Public Health are:

Vaccination:  Widespread vaccinations resulted in the elimination of smallpox and polio in the Americas; and control of measles, rubella, tetanus, diphtheria, haemophilus influenza type b, and other infectious diseases in the world-wide.  Routine childhood immunizations save $9.9 million in direct health care costs, save 33,000 lives and prevent 14 million cases of disease.

Motor-vehicle safety: Improvements in motor-vehicle safety have added to large reductions in motor-vehicle-related deaths. These improvements include increased use of safety belts, child safety seats, motorcycle helmets and decreased drinking and driving. A $52 investment in a child safety seat prevents $2,200 in medical costs, resulting in a return of $42 for every $1 invested.3 Similarly, a $12 investment in a child’s bicycle helmet can prevent $580 in medical costs, resulting in a return of $48 for every $1 invested.

Safer workplaces: Work-related health problems have been significantly reduced. Severe injuries and deaths related to mining, manufacturing, construction, and transportation also have decreased; since 1980, safer workplaces have resulted in a reduction of approximately 40% in the rate of fatal occupational injuries.

Control of infectious diseases: Control of infectious diseases has resulted from clean water and better sanitation.

Decline in deaths from coronary heart disease and stroke: Decline in deaths from coronary heart disease and stroke have resulted from risk-factor modification.   Since 1972, death rates for coronary heart disease have decreased 51%.

Safer and healthier foods:  Since 1900, safer and healthier foods have resulted from decreases in bacterial contamination and increases in nutritional content.

Fluoridation of drinking water: Fluoridation of drinking water began in 1945 and in 1999 reaches an estimated 144 million persons in the United States. Fluoridation safely and inexpensively benefits both children and adults by effectively preventing tooth decay, regardless of socioeconomic status or access to care. Fluoridation has played an important role in the reductions in tooth decay (40%-70% in children) and of tooth loss in adults (40%-60%).  Water that has been fortified with fluoride is similar to fortifying milk with Vitamin D, and table salt with iodine.

The cost of providing dental care for children enrolled in Medicaid and living in communities without fluoridation is twice as high as for children who receive the oral health benefits of drinking water fluoridation.

Healthier mothers and babies:  Healthier mothers and babies are a result of better hygiene and nutrition, availability of antibiotics, greater access to health care and scientific advances in medicine. Since 1900, infant mortality has decreased 90%, and maternal mortality has decreased 99%.  Every year, newborn screening efforts test nearly every baby born in the U.S. for health conditions that — if detected early enough — can be treated in time to prevent developmental problems, disability and death. For example, testing the 4 million infants born every year for congenital hypothyroidism costs $5 per newborn and prevents 160 cases of intellectual disability.

Family planning: Access to family planning and contraceptive services has altered social and economic roles of women. Family planning has provided health benefits such as smaller family size and longer interval between the birth of children.

Recognition of tobacco use as a health hazard: Recognition of tobacco use as a health hazard in 1964 has resulted promotion of cessation, and reduction of exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke. The prevalence of smoking among adults has decreased, and millions of smoking-related deaths have been prevented.

St. Croix County Public Health celebrates healthier lives as we move into the future.