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From The CriticsReviewer: Amer M. El-Ahraf, Dr.P.H., REHS (California State University Dominguez Hills)
Description: This book provides a wide range of information necessary to examine issues impacting the health and welfare of families in the twenty-first century.
Purpose: The purpose is to provide information regarding maternal and child health in terms of history, people, policies, legislation, what they mean, how they worked or did not, what needs fixing, and what matters. The book is intended to nourish existing and potential leaders and build advocacy that can improve maternal, child and family health in the 21st century. These are well stated and worthwhile objectives, and the authors were able to meet them.
Audience: The book is written for leaders in academia, in research centers, and in official and nonofficial organizations as well as members of boards, task forces, and clinical groups with roles in developing policies, strategic plans, program evaluations, procuring funding, influencing legislation and change on local, state or national levels. The intended audience is appropriate and the authors are credible authorities.
Features: This is an excellent collection of 38 articles that cover five major areas of maternal-child health (MCH) issues with appropriate references to the health conditions of the general population and with some international comparisons. These are foundations; social welfare; health expenditures and health insurance; health issues; and policy issues. Weaving a formidable mix of facts, figures, legislation and historical events, the authors provide the reader with an in-depth treatment of the subject matter. Examples cover the range from the public health triumphs achieved since 1900, that included a record increase in life expectancy and a record improvement in maternal mortality, to the decline of the U.S.'s international ranking in infant mortality, which has fallen from 11th lowest in 1960 to 27th lowest in 1997, and the record increase in homeless women and their children. Different articles show that despite impressive progress in many areas, more is needed to be done. After reviewing the maternal-child health policies and practices in a manner that shows the relevancy of their background to the unique characteristics of the American political system, culture, demographics, and value system, the book examines the priorities and research implications and challenges facing MCH in the 21st century. It predicts that programmatic priorities will expand and that "the implications of gene research will extend far into the 21st century and will affect health overall and maternal and child health in particular." The illustrations are superb and the short glossary at the end of the book is useful. While I recommend reading every article in this edited book, I particularly advise reading the one titled, "Health Care and Health Care Policy in a Changing World" first. It provides an understanding of the healthcare system through an examination of the society in which the system exists.
Assessment: "This second edition is must reading for leaders and potential leaders in the diverse area of maternal, child and family health, in particular, and in the health field in general. It contains a wealth of data, thoughtful analysis of past experiences, assessment of the present, and the tools to chart future actions. "