How Government & Private Agencies Prevent Disease

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

There are governmental and private agencies involved in health research and disease prevention. This lesson discusses three of these organizations: the CDC, the NIH, and the American Cancer Society.

Keeping Us Healthy

Who keeps you healthy? Is it your parents? They've probably gone on and on about the importance of keeping clean and eating right so that everyone stays healthy. Maybe it's your doctor, who has given you life-saving advice about the medication you need to be taking.

While family, friends, and our doctors definitely help prevent disease, there are very large organizations that do so as well. Some of them are government agencies and others are private ones. This lesson will go over three of them and how they help prevent disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

One of the largest and most important government-run, public health agencies is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It used to be called just the Centers for Disease control, that's why the acronym is short of a P. Anyway, the CDC is involved in a ton of stuff that helps prevent disease including:

  • Ensuring our food and water is safe by testing and tracking food to find out what may be causing a foodborne disease, why, and where.
  • Working around the world to help detect and stop the spread of diseases, like viral diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, which may affect people in the U.S.
  • Communicating important findings to your doctors and to you.

And this is where you can take advantage of the CDC's resources. By simply accessing their website you can find understandable and up to date information about any recent disease outbreak that may affect you. The outbreak may be of food you eat, the air you breathe, or a particular region of the country you live in or plan to travel to.

The National Institutes of Health

Another important government agency working to prevent disease is the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH is composed of 27 separate institutes and centers that are at the forefront of medical research. Their goals are to find out how best we can prevent, diagnose, and treat various diseases and disabilities ranging from cancer to the flu.

Thanks to the research that has been supported by NIH, deaths from heart disease fell by 67.5% from 1969 to 2013, the stroke mortality rate has decreased by 79% since 1950, and the death rate for adults with diabetes declined by 16.5% between 1969 to 2013. From cancer to HIV to addictions to drugs and beyond, the NIH has conducted and sponsored research that has saved a lot of lives.

The NIH website, provides access to important information that can help you live a better life and stay more informed about the latest advances in eating right, understand conditions like the differences between osteoporosis and arthritis, and how to prevent problems like keeping your brain healthy by abstaining from alcohol. Of course, those are just three tiny examples.

But you don't have to have access to the internet to get important preventative health information. The NIH has toll free health info lines that allow you to stay abreast of everything from Alzheimer's disease to oral health. You can even arrange a visit to the NIH and ask questions there.

American Cancer Society

Not all organizations that aim to inform us about health are government agencies. Some are private organizations such as the American Cancer Society. The American Cancer Society is a nonprofit organization that has many important missions.

You can access this organization's website to:

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