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PUBLIC HEALTH IS THE CORNERSTONE of health protection and disease prevention. Through classic public health measures, we have witnessed dramatic health milestones over the last century, almost doubling the life expectancy of Americans. From vaccines' conquest of major debilitating childhood illnesses, to a sharp decrease in infant and maternal mortality, to the reduction of occupational injuries and environmental exposures, public health has had enormous impact on the quality and quantity of life around the globe. However, when we truly succeed at our work of preventing disease, we know that our efforts often remain invisible to the world at large.The devastating events of September 11, 2001 and the anthrax outbreaks turned the world--including public health--on its head. They brought new urgency to concerns about the capacity of our nation's public health system to fulfill its mission of responding to threats and protecting health. While these events exposed the need for fundamental improvements on every level, at the same time they made painfully clear how critical public health is to the well-being of our country and the world. Public health's recent return to the limelight has opened up new opportunities to communicate the accomplishments of our field and convey the necessity of safeguarding a system on which we all depend--opportunities I hope will not be squandered for lack of political will, understanding, or financial support.

Improving our public health workforce and systems, the nuts and bolts for preventing disease and improving health, will ultimately rely on institutions like the Harvard School of Public Health. In every area of concern--making discoveries, building research and leadership capacity, creating policy to enact positive change--our faculty, students, alumni, friends, and staff have played a defining role. The School community is accustomed to being dynamic and flexible in the face of changing health needs. But as we seek to adapt to an inconstant world, our basic mission has not wavered. As part of a great University, we take our responsibility to generate and transmit knowledge, to train national and international leaders in public health, and to communicate our knowledge and mission to the public, very seriously.

This Annual Report covers a period of time from July 2001 to June 2002. We have felt the burden of being unprepared for terrorism. We continue to feel the burden of the thousands of people in our country who suffer and die from illnesses, like heart attacks, obesity, and diabetes, half of which we know could be prevented. We are also acutely aware, from our global research and training activities, of the millions who die of AIDS, TB, malaria, and malnutrition—health crises that are preventable as well.

Barry R. Bloom,
Dean, Harvard School of Public Health


©2003 Harvard School of Public Health
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