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Statements of Excellence in Public Health

Great Accomplishments in Public Health

A lot has happened in the field of public health in recent years. Here are just a few of the accomplishments to date!

Reductions in Child Mortality

Child mortality, a key measurement of United Nations Millennium Development Goal 4, is defined as deaths in children aged under 5 years old and serves as a major indicator of a nation's health and development, tracking health services and outcomes as well as important social and economic indicators.

Currently, an estimated 8.1 million children die each year before reaching their fifth birthday, a decrease of approximately 2 million in the last ten years.

From 77 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2000, the child mortality rate declined to just 62 per 1,000 in 2009. The annual rate of decline in the child mortality rate has increased substantially, from 1.3% per year in the 1990s to 2.2% since the year 2000.

Approximately 99% of all childhood deaths occur in low-income and middle-income countries. Exactly 49% occur in sub-Saharan Africa and 33% occur in southern Asia.

Approximately 68% of deaths among children aged <5 years are caused by infectious diseases, most notably diarrhea, pneumonia, malaria, and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Under-nutrition contributes to at least one third of all childhood deaths, usually in interaction with infectious causes. The vast majority of gains in child survival have been accomplished through scale-up of interventions like immunization, micronutrient supplementation, access to safe water, insecticide-treated bed-nets, oral rehydration therapy, antibiotics, antimalarial therapy, and antiretroviral therapies.

Increased financial resources, strong partnerships, intensified country support, and innovations in service delivery approaches have made these gains possible, and because of the success in reducing the number of deaths caused by infection, 41% of childhood deaths now occur among neonates. Leading causes of neonatal death are preterm birth complications, birth asphyxia, and sepsis.

Access to Safe Water and Sanitation

Water-related diseases, principally the 2.5 billion cases of diarrhea that occur annually, are the second leading reason for childhood mortality worldwide.

Diarrhea, almost 90% of which is related to inadequate water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), kills 1.5 million children aged under 5 years annually—more children than AIDS, malaria, and measles combined.

From 2000 to 2008, the world's population increased from 6.1 billion to 6.7 billion. But the proportion of the world's population with access to improved drinking water sources increased from 83% to 87% (covering an additional 800 million people), and the proportion with access to improved sanitation increased from 58% to 61% (covering an additional 570 million people).

These gains were made through WASH initiatives to increase water and sanitation coverage and promote hygienic behaviors (e.g., hand washing), as well as through existing services.

During the previous century in Europe, North America, and Japan, drinking water treatment almost eliminated waterborne diseases such as cholera and typhoid.

More recently, although improved WASH access resulted in significant progress in controlling water-related disease in certain countries (like Mexico and Chile), neglect of WASH infrastructure has contributed to large, deadly, waterborne outbreaks in others (e.g., cholera in Zimbabwe).

Continued improvements in global WASH coverage require intensifying current efforts, including a long-term, multi-sector commitment to building and maintaining water and sanitation systems, behavior change promotion, and WASH-related disease surveillance.

Improved Preparedness and Response to Global Health Threats

Pandemic diseases and emerging diseases like AIDS, severe acute respiratory syndrome, and influenza continue to cause fear, economic instability, severe illness, and premature death.

However, the public health community has improved preparedness for and detection of pandemic threats and is now responding more effectively than before.

The 2005 International Health Regulations, which entered into force in 2007, have modernized the international legal framework, improving systematic preparedness and response to pandemic and other emerging public health threats.

In addition, the use of the Internet and other media for public health surveillance has expanded, and the Global Public Health Information Network, CDC's Global Disease Detection Operations Center (GDDOC), additional international influenza response networks, and other systems routinely detect and respond to clusters of unusual diseases earlier than traditional surveillance. Laboratory and epidemiologic capacity also has improved markedly.

One example is that since 2006, GDDOC worked with ministries of health to add availability of 185 new diagnostic tests in 59 countries, enabling these countries to conduct tests for pathogens they could not previously perform.

Since 2000, a total of 21 new Field Epidemiology Training Programs have been established, three of which are now self-funded.

From 2000 to 2010, these new programs graduated approximately 500 epidemiologists, and cooperative agreements with ministries of health, regional training conducted in collaboration with WHO and other international organizations, and vital public health work to reduce transmission at the animal-human interface have also contributed to reducing the risk of influenza pandemics.

As a result of these and other efforts, the global response to the 2009 influenza A (H1N1) pandemic, which affected more than 214 countries and territories, was the fastest and most effective response to an influenza pandemic in history.

The pandemic virus was rapidly identified and characterized, the epidemiologic investigations were conducted to characterize the severity and risk groups, and surveillance data were used to estimate the burden of disease and guide the response in real time.

Within weeks of detecting the pandemic virus, diagnostic reagents were provided to laboratories in 146 countries, and laboratory and clinical training was provided, in collaboration with partners, to more than 6,100 health professionals in thirty-four countries.

A vaccine was developed within 20 weeks of the virus being detected, and through an international donation program, made available to 86 countries.

The lessons and experiences of the 2009 H1N1 response continue to guide preparedness efforts for future influenza pandemics as well as future public health emergencies.

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Sample 1st Paragraph for the Master’s Degree in Public Health. Kuwait

I grew up in a typical Arab family in Kuwait, with five siblings. By the age of seven I was already becoming a serious young woman emotionally as a result of my mother’s chronic illness. It would not be long before I was pretty much taking care of my siblings as well as fulfilling other major family responsibilities in the management of the home. It is not a childhood that I would want for anyone, of course; yet, it fortified me early on and made me tough, insightful, and determined. At the same time that I worried about my mother’s health, I went into an almost brutal survival mode for a child, because I knew that my younger siblings were depending on me to be a strong family leader. I had to stay positive and take action to overcome this hardship. By the time I was 9, making major decisions independently had become something natural and ordinary in my mind. 

Degree sought, field, or place of origin!

Sample 1st Paragraph for MPH Degree Admission, MD from Pakistan

I am a doctor from Pakistan with almost 10 years of professional experience in health care. While I was still a teenager, my grandmother died of hepatitis C. This was a watershed experience for me and one that launched me upon a course of profound devotion to medicine and a formidable curiosity about everything having to do with public health. While I have very much enjoyed my experiences as a doctor in Pakistan and as a student in pre-residency training here in America, I have long been obsessed with the simple realization that prevention is simply better than cure. For this reason, I want very much to complete the MPH Degree in your cutting-edge program at XXXX University, as I am certain that it will make me a much more creative and efficacious doctor, especially with respect to issues in international medicine.

It is the most profound honor imaginable for me to have the privilege of helping applicants in this field from all over the Developing World, public health professionals the vast majority of whom will return at some point in their career to help design and implement new generations of public health initiatives in their countries of origen in Asia, Africa, Latin America, etc.   I am an old wise man writing your statements and thereby insuring my own immortality in the most meaningful way possible, that my own labor will not have been in vain.