Public Health Shift in Focus

Public Health Shift in Focus

In the past, much of the focus of the public health department has been to concentrate on the infectious disease prevention.  The situation has, however, changed in the recent past; the focus has shifted from infectious disease prevention to other health related issues. In this paper, we look at a pivotal, legal and historical occurrence to which we can attribute this change in the shift towards.

Injury prevention, violence, drug abuse are now the primary focus of the public health. The first and main reason for this change in emphasis can be traced in the achievements of the public health (Tulchinsky & Varavikova, 2009). During the late 19th century, the major accomplishment of the public health was that it had been able to curb the mortality and the morbidity rates related to infectious diseases. Infectious diseases such as smallpox, typhoid, cholera, and others had been adequately controlled and no longer carried threats of epidemic proportions (Killoran & Kelly, 2010). These successes could be attributed to strategies like immunizations for children and better access to clean water by most households.

The achievements made it possible for the public health to shift attention to where it was needed. During the 1990s, the infectious diseases such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, and typhoid topped the charts for mortality (Tulchinsky & Varavikova, 2009). In the 21st century, diseases such as heart diseases, cancers, and stroke have taken over the mantle. This change has forced the public health to put the focus where it is necessary (Orme, 2007).

Other events have led to the change in emphasis by the public health. Several other events over the past ten years have been pivotal to the shift in focus; first, the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The 9 11 attacks that were followed by the anthrax attacks via the U.S portal system meant that the public health had to change focus to be prepared for injuries from such attacks (Tulchinsky & Varavikova, 2009). The increased cases of domestic violence and gun violence in the United States also prompted the public health to put emphasis on prevention of injuries from such violence. The gun laws that allowed possession of a weapon by Americans who had a license also played a great role (Orme, 2007). Finally, the havoc caused by hurricanes Rita and Katrina in 2005 prompted further change in focus.




Killoran, A. & Kelly, M. (2010). Evidence-based public health (1st ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Orme, J. (2007). Public health for the 21st century (1st ed.). Maidenhead, Berkshire, England: Open University Press.

Tulchinsky, T. & Varavikova, E. (2009). The new public health (1st ed.). Amsterdam: Elsevier / Academic Press.


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