Our publication Continuum is named for the many ways through which the Brown University School of Public Health contributes to the innovation and development of public health as a whole. Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines a continuum as “a coherent whole characterized as a collection, sequence, or progression of values or elements varying by minute degrees.” At the Brown University School of Public Health we seek to bring health care services, research and education to a place of excellence. Our goal is to positively affect the health of communities and populations worldwide. We recognize that a strong public health school begins with a dedication to exceptional education and commitment to research that progresses to real-world experience. The School of Public Health has embraced this continuum to become recognized as a leader in helping build awareness of population health issues, shape public policy and increase positive health outcomes. At Brown, our students and faculty bring research and education to new heights. They continually work to expand knowledge of health and translate it into public health practices that make a difference to the population.
“Ingenuity, knowledge, and organization alter but cannot cancel humanity’s vulnerability to invasion by parasitic forms of life. Infectious disease which antedated the emergence of humankind will last as long as humanity itself, and will surely remain, as it has been hitherto, one of the fundamental parameters and determinants of human history.” — William H. McNeill in Plagues and Peoples, 1976
Our first issue of Continuum delves into the research and initiatives of students and faculty members who explore how the study of epidemics is advancing knowledge of infectious disease on a global scale. The public health community has made great strides over the years toward the eradication of infectious diseases through various health interventions. However, while these achievements have resulted in disease reduction, in 2015 we are surrounded by illness around the globe. Today, medical innovations such as vaccines and antimicrobials help prevent many infectious diseases and conditions; however, they do not eliminate all of the diseases threatening our population. Currently, infectious diseases cause 63% of all childhood deaths and 48% of premature deaths globally (1). We are surrounded by diseases such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis and in addition, diseases that we thought had been extinguished, such as measles and cholera. In a time when diseases such as Ebola are killing thousands, the need for public health and public health intervention is immense. Increasingly, our world has become more susceptible to infectious diseases, as climate change, migration, population growth, and increased international travel, among other things, put us all at greater risk for infectious disease.
The public health community must adopt strategies for prevention and control. Public health research, education, and practice expand our knowledge of infectious diseases and methods of disease prevention.