In an interview with the blog Thought Economics, Harvard School of Public Health Dean Julio Frenk, together with several leading experts, reflected on the last century of accomplishments in the field of public health and the challenges and opportunities for the future. Sir Richard Thompson, president of the Royal College of Physicians, Baron Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Dame Sally Davies, the United Kingdom’s chief medical officer, were interviewed along with Frenk.
The wide-ranging interview provided the subjects an opportunity to reflect broadly on the nature and role of public health. Frenk described the field as “an arena for action,” reflected on the critical challenges currently facing the world around infectious and non-communicable disease and mental health, and pointed out how we can become victims of our own success as the global population ages. He urged a focus on tackling health inequalities, pointing out that despite the fantastic progress made in health in the 20th century, the progress has not been distributed equally. “In the 21st century,” he said, “it is an injustice that we have not managed to get rid of problems for which we have the knowledge to solve.”