I recently read the Richard Easterlin’s paper “How beneficient is the market? A look at the modern history of mortality” and just blown away by the way the paper tastefully argues and reasons. (Perhaps I have been reading online too much lately.)
I was happy that I finally glimpsed where the ideas and arguments in public health come from. For example, I have been fascinated by Gap Minder since my graduate school years, but I considered it more like a data visualization project. However, now I see it in a different way.
Summary: Public policy initiatives, based on new knowledge of disease and new institutions, have been essential to the improvement of life expectancy rather than economic development. This conclusion kind of rationalize why we are developing knowledge dissemination tools and interventions such as eLearning tools. The difference is we can not do it a lot faster with all the communication tools. Perhaps the challenge let users stay focused on something reliable among all noise!
Another thought: As this paper indicates, non-infectious gradually replaced infectious disease for the leading causes of death as new techniques of disease control were introduced. However, as life expectancy took off, non-communicable diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and mental illness are becoming bigger concerns. No one clarified the mechanisms of those conditions yet, but lots of research points out that these conditions can be preventable with healthier life style. Perhaps now life style change such as exercise and diet should be considered as one of the techniques to control disease.