Citing 100 years of advances in science, such as the eradication of smallpox, a 30-year increase in longevity and widespread immunization for childhood diseases, Surgeon General David Satcher, M.D., Ph.D., told the EPH Commencement audience that much remains to be done in this century. Among the challenges facing the 78 graduates in public health, Satcher said, are HIV/AIDS, an aging population and racial and ethnic disparities in health care. “How can we continue to improve the quality of life for all Americans?” he asked. “To the extent that we respond to the needs of the most vulnerable among us, we respond to the health needs of the nation.”
Satcher called for a balance among the basic, biomedical and clinical sciences and for partnerships between public health and science. “We have to make sure we write policies that are consistent with the best available science,” he said.
Student speaker Matthew Freeman, M.P.H. ’01, asked his classmates to heed the admonition of Ralph Waldo Emerson “to leave the world a little better.” “I, too, hope that we will find success by Emerson’s definition,” Freeman said, “by improving the health of the people, keeping the environment clean and seeking the most effective ways to prevent and treat disease.”