|July 1, 2002||Timeline - A history of the Illinois Department of Public Health|
|125th Anniversary Photo Gallery|
PUBLIC HEALTH MARKS 125 YEARS
SPRINGFIELD, IL The Illinois Department of Public Health today observes its 125th birthday, commemorating July 1, 1877, when two laws approved by the Illinois General Assembly established the State Board of Health and the new agency was provided a $5,000 budget for its first two years of operation.
Dr. John R. Lumpkin, state public health director, will raise a 125th anniversary flag at 1 p.m. today at the Department's central offices 525-535 W. Jefferson St., Springfield to mark the start of a year-long observance of the agency's history of preventing disease and promoting health.
Other events have been scheduled over the next year to observe the Department's anniversary, including a symposium Public Health Milestones and Future Challenges in Chicago on July 9 and 10.
"I commend the Department of Public Health on the impact they've had on the health and well-being of Illinois citizens," said Governor George H. Ryan. "They made tremendous strides in not only eradication and treatment of disease but also on educating the public on the preventive measures that can be taken to improve overall health and prolong life."
"Public health has provided the foundation for the dramatic improvements in our nation's and our state's health over the last century," Dr. Lumpkin said. "The dedication of those who make up the state's public health system the state health department, local health departments and health care providers have produced remarkable dividends as measured by longevity and quality of life. Today, life expectancy is 75 years compared with 49 when the Department was first organized."
Dr. Lumpkin pointed out that early in the agency's history the Department directed state efforts to control smallpox, cholera and typhoid, virtually eliminated polio, reduced dental decay through fluoridation of community water supplies and corrected sanitary conditions that threatened water and food supplies.
Today, he said, the Department has programs to deal with new emerging issues such as bioterrorism, HIV/AIDS, West Nile virus and E. coli 0157:H7, as well as persistent health problems that require continued vigilance infant mortality, vaccine preventable childhood diseases, cancer, heart disease, tobacco use, unintendend pregnancies, nutrition and violence.
"The Department has nearly 200 programs that benefit literally each state resident and visitor in some important way," Dr. Lumpkin said. "Assuring the quality of food, setting the standards for hospital and nursing home care, overseeing preparedness for the possibility of a bioterrorist attack, checking the safety of recreation areas, overseeing the inspection of milk producing farms and processing plants, maintaining the state's vital records and screening newborns for genetic and metabolic diseases are just some of the duties. The agency's daily activities of maintaining the public's health, though, are rarely noticed unless a breakdown in the system occurs."
Dr. Lumpkin said the future holds promise for yet more improvements in the health of the state and the nation. Past the success in preventing many diseases that plagued people in the last 125 years has enabled more people to survive to ages at which they are now faced with chronic conditions, such as heart disease, liver disease, cancer and diabetes.
"There is evidence that these chronic conditions can be avoided through behavioral or lifestyle changes," Dr. Lumpkin said. "A significant percentage can be prevented through diet and exercise, avoiding tobacco and alcohol, making regular visits to primary care providers and health education."
Reflecting its growing responsibilities is the Department's budget. From its initial two- year budget of $5,000, IDPH's fiscal 2003 budget has risen to $313 million in state and federal funds. Starting with a staff of three in 1877, the Department now has 1,300 employees who work in offices in Springfield and Chicago, seven regional offices located around the state and three laboratories.
The Department is the state's second oldest agency, trailing in longevity only the Illinois Department of Agriculture, which was established in 1871.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Milestones in the 125-year history of the Illinois Department of Public Health are available in a timeline posted on the agency's Web site at www.idph.state.il.us/timeline/history.htm.
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
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