MCH Timeline: History, Legacy and Resources for Education and Practice

Article excerpt

MCH Timeline: History , Legacy and Resources for Education and Practice. Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration, United States Department of Health and Human Services, Rockville, Md. Contributors: Greg Alexander, Alice R. Richman, Sun Hee Rim, Bonnie Means Lane, Colleen E. Huebner, Holly Grason, Maribeth Badura, Laura Kavanagh. Web design: Jack Neuner.

This Web site, established by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) of the Health Resources and Services Administration, describes the history of maternal, infant, and child care in the United States beginning in 1798 and concluding in 2006. An introduction states that the bureau's hope is for the site to ". . . be used as an orientation tool for those new to maternal-child health (MCH) professions, for grantees of the [MCHB] and MCH students. [They] also hope that those with experience in the field will find it a rich resource and a source of inspiration."1 The MCH timeline is focused on the highlights of the United States Public Health Services record in providing resources and direct services to childbearing women and children. It provides the material using an interactive timeline that takes the user from general information to more specific facts with a few clicks of the mouse.

Information contained on the main timeline includes major events in the care of women and children, including health care as well as social and cultural events that impacted the provision of such care. For example, the establishment of the Marine Health Service (MHS) in 1798 is the first citation. This service focused on the health of merchant marines and other men working at sea. The connection to mothers and children, initially not an obvious one, is the MHS's assistance to authorities on epidemics and quarantine issues. The MHS is also considered the forerunner of the United States Public Health Service (USPHS).

At first glance (or first click!) many entries on the timeline appear to be mere mentions of very important issues. The Sheppard Towner Act is summarized in ninety-six words. However, links to other sites provide the user with digitized copies of the actual act passed in 1921 and a summary of the programs developed with the grant monies, edited by Grace Abbott and published by the Children's Bureau in 1929. The Web site handles other major legislation affecting women and children in a similar manner.

The Web site gives the user options for searching for a particular topic. The user can filter the main timeline topics by public health and medicine or by government and policy. Some topics such as infant mortality, a module entitled MCH Public Health 101, oral histories and genetics, can be isolated on the timeline and explored in much more depth through connecting links. Users can also type terms or topics of interest into a search bar, results indicating, with appropriate links, where to find the information within the timeline. A tab on the main page brings up a listing of timeline resources that enhance the material covered on the timeline. …


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