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first_imgHomeOpinionColumns100 years of Public Health 100 years of Public HealthApril 9, 2019Mark CarpenterColumns, Opinion0 By William Hablitzel, Adams County Health Department-Sometimes, good things arise from something bad. Such was the case with public health in Ohio. One hundred years ago, Ohio was dealing with the aftermath of an unusually severe influenza season, one that changed the world.In 1918, 15 years before the virus that causes influenza was discovered, influenza swept around the world. In what would become known as the Spanish Flu, 500 million people were infected worldwide. Between 50 million and 100 million died, about 3% of the world’s population. In the United States it hit the military particularly hard with 300,000 soldiers becoming ill within two months. Camp Sherman in Chillicothe, Ohio was affected more than any other training camp in the country with 1,200 soldiers dying from influenza. At Cincinnati General Hospital, a quarter of those admitted with influenza died.The Hughes Law and Griswold Act, passed by the Ohio legislature in 1919, was in direct response to the Spanish Influenza Pandemic and created the public health model used today. Cities and counties were organized into local health districts, each governed by a locally appointed board of health to ensure that Ohio could effectively respond to public health crises. This year marks the 100th anniversary of public health in Ohio.Much has happened in public health over the past 100 years. Life expectancy in the United States increased by almost 30 years in the 20th century. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25 years of this increase is directly attributable to public health. Through immunization and sanitation programs, once commonplace infectious diseases such as smallpox, polio, diphtheria, typhoid, and cholera are but unpleasant memories. Since 1900, infant mortality in the country has declined 90% and maternal mortality by 99%. Healthier and safer foods sustain us. Deaths from heart disease and strokes have dropped significantly.As public health celebrates its accomplishments over the past 100 years, there is still much work to be done. Life expectancy in the United States has actually declined the past two consecutive years, a trend not seen since the days of the Spanish Influenza Pandemic. It’s an alarming trend attributed to drug overdose, suicide, and chronic liver disease, problems that touch Appalachia America particularly hard. Between 1990 and 2010, the number of people living with diabetes tripled and the number of new cases diagnosed annually doubled. Far too many still fall ill to vaccine preventable diseases.Public health is about making and keeping our community a healthy, safe, and happy place to live and work. It’s a job for all of us and in the coming months, we’ll be talking about ways in which you can help. For more information about public health, contact the Adams County Health Department at (937) 544-5547. 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