History of Public Health

Narinder Grewal MD

Jonas Salk developed a vaccine against polio in 1955, reducing the number of U.S. cases from 58,000 in 1952 to just   5,000 in 1957.


In the History of Public Health we will examine the historical experience of health and illness from a population perspective. This material seeks to reveal how the organization of societies facilitates or mitigates the production and transmission of disease. It also asks how do populations and groups of individuals go about securing their health? One key theme is the medical management of space in one form or another – from the public space of the environment through institutional spaces such as schools and workplaces to personal/individual body space. The progression of the lectures reflects this, working “inwards” from the environment to individuals.

The content provides an historical interpretation of how the theory and practice of public health in today’s world has come to be what it is. We will concentrate primarily on the modern world (i.e., 1750 onwards) and omit detailed examination of public health in antiquity and the middle ages, although these time periods will be alluded to frequently. A thematic rather than chronological structure will be adopted so that comparisons can be made across the centuries and between different parts of the globe.

A Brief History Of Health Spending Since 1965

Since last March when we began tracking national health expenditures (NHE) on a monthly basis, we have been wondering when the health spending share of GDP would hit the 18 percent threshold. The recent downward revision of historical GDP estimates has provided the answer – it already happened — back in the summer of 2009, around the time when the recession was declared officially over. (Altarum Institute Health Sector Economic Indicators Spending Brief). It has moved up and down a bit since and, as of June 2011, sits at 18.2 percent. When Medicare was created back in 1965, the share was a shade under 6 percent. In this blog, I trace the growth in the health spending share of GDP from 1965 to present and identify some important historical patterns including evidence of two significant bends in the curve…

If you are interested, You can continue reading here: http://healthaffairs.org/blog/2011/09/19/a-brief-history-of-health-spending-since-1965/