Improving Public Health


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Engineering can help save millions of lives

On July 31, Amanda Mewborn was attending the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Symposium on Engineering and Operations Research in Public Health. Before this event, she had not given much thought to the role of an IE in public health, incorrectly assuming that such problems should be tackled by people with degrees in public health.

From the presentation she got three examples from the presentation:

  1. The relationship between environmental engineering and public health. Examples: used a systems perspective to analyze the root cause of a contaminated spinach in California. The approach was nothing less than one that required thinking about the system as a whole.
  2. AnemoCheck, an inexpensive diagnostic test for anemia. This device was quite impressive, as it produces results in less than one minute from a single drop of blood, and it is expected to cost pennies on the dollar compared to similar test. This test is a great example of how engineering can boost public health by helping to identify and diagnose a condition afflicting billions of people worldwide.
  3. The allocation of resources is something an IE certainly can solve. Examples: Take the allocation of vaccines: A typical IE probably would distribute them to where they would provide the most benefits, usually to areas where people have a greater risk of contracting the disease.

Public health is certainly a field where engineering can help save millions of people’s lives worldwide.