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12 great health achievements in the past 100 years

Tobacco use: In the 1950s, more than half of adults smoked; today, the figure is less than 1 in 5.

Vaccination: Once-common killers of children such as polio, smallpox and measles have virtually disappeared.

Motor vehicles : The rate of road deaths has fallen by more than half since the 1970s through initiatives like seatbelt laws.

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Workplaces: Safety initiatives and greater attention to physical environment has improved the lot of workers.

Infectious diseases: Epidemics of cholera, typhus and tuberculosis were once common.

Cardiovascular health: Changes in diet and investment in prevention have led to sharp declines in death from heart disease and stroke.

Food: Regulation and inspection has dramatically reduced food-borne disease.

Mothers and babies: A century ago, one in seven children died before age 2, and death during childbirth was common.

Family planning: The legalization of birth control and decriminalization of abortion has given women reproductive rights.

Environment: Air pollution and water pollution are far less common.

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Social programs: Medicare, child benefits and old-age pensions have reduced inequities.

Acting on social determinants: There is a growing recognition that education, housing and income are keys to health outcomes.

Source: Canadian Public Health Association

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