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October 4, 2000

Current and Future Public Health Challenges

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Ga.

JAMA. 2000;284(13):1696-1698. doi:10.1001/jama.284.13.1696

During the past century, public health has faced numerous challenges and has made much progress. Childhood immunizations, antibiotics, fortified foods, and clean water are just a few of the public health advances of the 20th century that have extended life expectancy from 45 years at the turn of the century to more than 75 years today. In fact, for the first time, this year's census forms offer a 3-digit space for entering one's age—an accommodation to the approximately 70,000 centenarians living in the United States.1 Moreover, knowledge and attitudes about healthy behaviors also have contributed to improved longevity and quality of life, such as knowledge of the hazards of smoking, the value of personal and food hygiene, and the concept that injuries in the workplace, at home, or on the roads can be prevented.