Department Of Health Marks 100 Years in Arkansas

Apr 1, 2013

The Arkansas Department of Health is marking 100 years of service in the state.

Credit Arkansas Department of Health

A celebration took place on Monday at the Old State House because the Department of Health was once located there.

Martha Miller of the Department of Arkansas Heritage said the Old State House was the site of a major research project.

"In 1916, there was an experiment. The Department of Health and the Rockefeller Foundation engaged in an experiment to eradicate mosquitoes and they were very successful in this experiment. As a result, we made a great step forward in eradicating an infectious and very terrible disease,” said Miller.

Dr. Paul Halverson, Director of the Arkansas Department of Health, said there are a lot of public health advancements in the state over the last 100 years.

Some include immunizing children and adults, ensuring safer food and drinking water, and providing good prenatal care to expectant moms, which all have added 25 years to the life expectancy of state residents.

Governor Beebe also participates in the celebration on Monday and talked about the importance of the anniversary.

“We celebrate 100 years and there are a lot of things that have occurred that now we take for granted. Immunizations, you all will remember we had a first lady a number of decades back who took that on as a cause célèbre and increased immunizations in Arkansas to the point that now we take many of those things for granted,” said Beebe.

Governor Beebe was referring to Betty Bumpers, the wife of former Arkansas Governor Dale Bumpers.

In 1973 she launched the Arkansas statewide immunization program called “Every Child by ‘74”, an innovative public health initiative that ended up becoming a model for immunization programs nationwide.