Making a Difference
By Marion Harmon
In doing research for this issue’s cover story about global
health disparities, I came across some startling statistics.
Today, a baby born in the United States can expect to live into
his or her late 70s. At the turn of the last century, the average
U.S. life expectancy was 47 years. The Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention reported in 1999 that the 30-year gain is due to
clean drinking water, antibiotics, and other breakthroughs that
have helped control infectious diseases.
Developing countries still struggle with infectious disease, unsafe
water, and many other health problems. Large gains have been made
in nearly wiping out some infectious diseases like polio—cases
have declined by 99 percent (to 3,500) since the launch of the polio
eradication initiative in 1988. But new diseases have taken their
place—the HIV/AIDS epidemic is ravaging parts of Africa at
an alarming rate.
Clean drinking water is a given in the United States, with 100
percent of people having access to safe drinking water. But worldwide,
some 1.1 billion people still lack access. The lowest percentages
are in the East Asia/Pacific region at 76 percent and sub-Saharan
Africa at 57 percent.
Health and Community Services Professor Mark Tomita has networked
with a large group of health care professionals to gather and disseminate
crucial information to educate health care workers and public policy
makers on global health disparities and other health issues. Tomita’s
efforts encourage us to look more closely, see more clearly, and
act more conscientiously. That’s one of the functions of a
public university, and CSU, Chico is taking that responsibility