Vision and Challenges
Case Studies on Emerging Infections,
Bioterrorism, and Public Health Genetics
The field of public health helped vastly to improve the health and well-being of populations during the twentieth century, leading to substantial increases in life expectancy, improved sanitation and living conditions, and reductions in infectious diseases. Nevertheless, major problems, as well as remarkable opportunities, confront the field in a new century. (Compare the ten greatest public health achievements in the twentieth century [Table 8] with current and future public health challenges [Table 9].)
This chapter offers case studies on three of the most complex and important challenges: emergent and reemergent infectious diseases (including the problem of drug-resistant organisms), biological warfare and bioterrorism, and public health genetics.
One can think of the middle of the 20th century as the end of one of the most important social revolutions in history — the virtual elimination of the infectious disease as a significant factor in social life.
Sir F. McFarland Burnet and David O. White (1962)