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CDC Highlights 10 Notable Health Achievements of Last 10 Years

Wednesday May 25, 2011
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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has named 10 noteworthy public health achievements of the first decade of the 21st century.

“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,” said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH. “However, we can do much more to protect and promote health. Continued investments in prevention will help us and our children live even longer, healthier and more productive lives while bringing down healthcare costs.”

The achievements include:

Vaccine-Preventable Diseases: A number of new vaccines were introduced during the first decade of the 21st century. Two of the most significant were the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, which has prevented an estimated 211,000 serious pneumococcal infections and 13,000 deaths; and the rotavirus vaccine, which now prevents an estimated 40,000 to 60,000 rotavirus hospitalizations each year.

Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases: The first decade of the 21st century included a 30% reduction in reported tuberculosis cases in the United States and a 58% decline in central line-associated bloodstream infections. Improvements in lab techniques and technology allowed for easier and more rapid identification of contaminated foods to help control the spread of foodborne illness outbreaks.

Tobacco Control: The number of states with comprehensive smoke-free laws grew from zero in 2000 to 25 states and Washington, D.C., in 2010. In 2009, a new federal cigarette tax took effect, bringing the combined federal and average state excise tax for cigarettes to $2.21 per pack, an increase of 76 cents per pack since 2000.

Maternal and Infant Health: The past decade has included a 36% reduction in babies born with neural tube defects. This trend largely stems from folic acid fortification of cereal grain products in the United States as well as public health campaigns encouraging women of childbearing age to make sure they get the recommended amounts of folic acid.

Motor Vehicle Safety: From 2000 to 2009, the death rate related to motor vehicle travel dropped from 14.9 per 100,000 people to 11 per 100,000. The injury rate fell from 1,130 per 100,000 people to 722. The decade also included a decline of 49% in pedestrian deaths among children, and a 58% decline in the number of bicyclist deaths

Cardiovascular Disease Prevention: Heart disease and stroke are still among the nation’s leading killers. However, deaths from both diseases declined over the past decade, mainly due to lower smoking rates as well as improvements in treatment, medications and quality of care. Improvements also led to reductions in major risk factors such as hypertension and high cholesterol.

Occupational Safety: The United States has seen significant improvements in working conditions and the risk of workplace-associated injuries during the past decade. Examples of these improvements include patient lifting guidance for U.S. healthcare employees that reduced back injuries among these workers by 35%.

Cancer Prevention: Improvements in screening techniques and strong cancer screening recommendations have led to improved screening rates and a reduction in deaths of 2% to 3% per year from colorectal, breast and cervical cancer. The creation of the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program has reduced disparities by providing breast and cervical cancer screenings to uninsured women.

Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention: By 2010, 23 states had comprehensive lead poisoning prevention laws compared to just five states in 1990. The percentage of children ages 1 to 5 with elevated levels of lead in the blood has declined from 88.2% in 1980 to under 1% in 2008.

Improved Public Health Preparedness and Response: Much progress has taken place since Sept. 11, 2001, in expanding the capacity of the public health system to respond to public health emergencies and disease outbreaks. Influenza vaccination, along with other public health measures taken during the 2009 outbreak of H1N1, prevented an estimated 5 million to 10 million cases, 30,000 hospitalizations, and 1,500 deaths.

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