Viewpoint: Future of public health lies in revisiting past efforts 

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The future of public health lies in looking at past attitudes and practices, and encompassing individuals who don't necessarily work in healthcare, wrote Ed Yong for The Atlantic Oct. 23. 

David Rosner, PhD, MDPH, a public-health historian at Columbia University, told Mr. Yong the field was "stronger and more ambitious" at the start of the 20th century when clinicians were focused on social-reform efforts to help the health of the nation. 

Dr. Rosner and other experts explained how the shift in the focus of the field of public health potentially led practitioners to be "less revolutionary" until the pandemic.

"If anything, the pandemic has proved what public health’s practitioners understood well in the late 19th and early 20th century: how important the social side of health is," Mr. Yong wrote.

Mr. Yong said while experts remain divided on whether public health should remain apolitical, past efforts possess important lessons for the future.

"Chronically overstretched workers who can barely deal with STDs or opioid addiction can’t be expected to tackle poverty and racism — but they don’t have to," Mr. Yong wrote. "What if, instead, we thought of the Black Lives Matter movement as a public-health movement, the American Rescue Plan as a public-health bill, or decarceration, as the APHA recently stated, as a public-health goal?" 

"In this way of thinking, too, employers who institute policies that protect the health of their workers are themselves public-health advocates."

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