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Ten Lessons in Public Health

, 120 pages

12 halftones

February 2013



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Ten Lessons in Public Health

Inspiration for Tomorrow's Leaders

There are occasions when a story told from a personal viewpoint can illuminate a profession. Alfred Sommer’s epidemiological memoir is such a book. Adventurous, illuminating, and thought provoking, Ten Lessons in Public Health is more than the story of one man’s work. It tells the tale of how epidemiology grew into global health. The book is organized around ten lessons Sommer learned as his career took him around the world, and within these lessons he explains how the modern era of public health research was born.

Three themes emerge from Sommer's story: the duty to help your fellow human beings by traveling to places where there are problems; the knowledge that data-driven research is the key to improving public health; and the need to persevere with sensitivity and strength when science and cultural or sociological forces clash. Nothing in this compelling, sometimes controversial, history is glossed over, as the book’s goal is to explain when and why public health efforts triumph or fail. Readers will travel to Bangladesh, Iran, Indonesia, South America, and the Caribbean, where they will learn about spreading epidemics, the aftermath of storms, and vexing epidemiological problems. Sommer reveals the inner politics of world health decisions and how difficult it can be to garner support for new solutions.

Triumph, tragedy, frustration, and elation await those who set off on careers in public health, and Ten Lessons in Public Health is destined to become a classic book that puts the field into perspective.

Alfred Sommer, M.D., M.H.S., is University Distinguished Service Professor and Gilman Scholar at the Johns Hopkins University and dean emeritus of its Bloomberg School of Public Health. He is the author of Getting What We Deserve: Health and Medical Care in America, also published by Johns Hopkins; Vitamin A Deficiency: Health, Survival, and Vision; and Epidemiology and Statistics for the Ophthalmologist.

"This book combines the most basic lessons of epidemiology with a real-world international health compelling story. It should be required reading for every public health student."

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would find this book extremely useful in the training of its EIS officers. There are few, if any, similar publications written by a person with the experience and accomplishments of Dr. Sommer. The book demonstrates significant field epidemiology results achieved through a practical, but rigorous, hands-on approach vividly illustrated with personal experiences."

"Sommer is deftly able to explore his field's big ideas by directly following ordinary human stories, which not only makes the lessons easy to understand but foregrounds the reasons why to do it in the first place."

"Sommer's new memoir is also a gift to students—'Inspiration for Tomorrow's Leaders' is the subtitle—full of stories from a career spent in some of the poorest corners of the world, amid political upheaval and natural disasters."

"Alfred Sommer has now done exactly what we desire and written 10 Lessons in Public Health: Inspiration for Tomorrow’s Leaders. Sommer combines the wisdom of going to where the problems are... with a discussion of the limitation of a job description... These aren’t just lessons for public health. These are lessons for life."

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