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What social services can learn from healthcare

Updated: Jun 17

The healthcare system has made huge progress on reducing mortality and disease burden. Why can’t we do the same with social issues like mental health and homelessness?

This piece doesn’t have any answers — it only points out the perhaps uncomfortable contrast between huge progress on tackling many diseases, and the hard slog to make progress on many social issues.

Health technology and public health actions have saved lives

The health sector can point to many dramatic improvements in the prevalence and impact of diseases, both in developed and developing countries around the world. For example, the long term trend is that we keep getting better at preventing deaths from influenza.

Saloni Dattani and Fiona Spooner (2022) — “How many people die from the flu?” -

Zooming out to all the causes of childhood mortality, this chart below shows how many children’s lives have been saved through better medicine, public health actions and global vaccine programs. In the 30 year period to 2021, 132 million children’s lives have been saved. That’s twice as many people as died in World War 2.

The rest of the article compares social service progress and proposes some innovation lessons from healthcare - originally published on the Medium blog.

Image source: Centre for Disease Control

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