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July 15, 1992

Preventive Medicine and Public Health

Author Affiliations

The Carter Center of Emory University, Atlanta, Ga

JAMA. 1992;268(3):401-403. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03490030113050

The disciplines of preventive medicine and public health are not meeting their potential in reducing morbidity and mortality. Public health successes may have obscured our failures. The world has not had the level of medical care that we take for granted in this country, yet global life expectancy increased from 50 years in 1960 to an estimated 60 years in 1990.1-3 India actually reported an improvement of life expectancy of 6 months per year from 1956 to 1978.4

Reductions in infant mortality rates may be even more impressive. The infant mortality rate for the entire world has fallen from about 125 deaths per 1000 live births in 1960 to about half that number in the early 1990s.1-3 Those areas at highest risk have fallen from 48 countries with infant mortality rates of 150 or higher in 1960 to only six countries remaining in this category by 1990.