In the past, medics tried to paint clear borders around their role in society. They were the people you went to for treatment when you got sick. You hoped that they would put you back together and allow you to continue living your regular life.
With the changing nature of diseases, however, that old approach seems a little outdated. The conditions that most people have today are nothing like those of the past. In the 19th century, the biggest killer was tuberculosis and cholera. Today, its heart disease and stroke.
The nature of the causes of these diseases has changed too. Nasty bugs were responsible for the majority of human illness in the past, cutting lives short wherever they struck. Today, though, it’s mainly lifestyle factors, like diet, which determine long-term health. Medics know that merely treating the problems is only half of the solution. If they want to be really effective, they need to prevent them too.
Medicine is changing. It is becoming more holistic. As the following infographic shows, the focus is now much more on tackling the issues related to poor health, such as opiate addiction, housing insecurity, and social isolation. Public health professionals know that if they can address those issues, they can get one step ahead of disease and prevent people from making damaging lifestyle choices.
If you’re interested in how public health in America is changing, check out the facts and figures in the infographic below. It shows just how much our medical system is adapting to the new knowledge we’ve gained about how health works.
Infographic by University of Southern California