April begins with National Public Health Week
Health Education Team for Genesee & Orleans Counties
The first week of April is National Public Health Week, a week set aside showing us how we can choose healthier living. National Public Health Week started in April of 1995 by the American Public Health Association with a focus on Public Health prevention topics. This years’ theme is, “Creating the Healthiest Nation: For science. For action. For Health.”
The topics for each day are:
• Monday, April 1st – Healthy Communities: People’s health, longevity and well-being are connected to their communities. Americans face many issues in their community such as being exposed to air pollution, lead, and even unsafe places to walk. Working with transportation planners to create safe walking and biking paths and organizing clinics for vaccines such as flu shots are all steps that can be taken to benefit people in the community and prevent preventable deaths. By making health a priority in policymaking we can help make a difference in communities.
• Tuesday, April 2nd – Violence Prevention: Violence is a significant public health problem in the United States, whether it is gun-related, rape, domestic abuse, suicide, or even child abuse. As public health professionals, it is part of our job to prevent acts of violence. This can be done through urging policy makers to inforce stricter gun laws, working with local colleges to help victims of sexual violence, and enforcing home-visits to prevent child maltreatment. It is important to advocate community-driven solutions that target the source of where the violence is coming from that do not punish the community as a whole.
• Wednesday, April 3rd – Rural Health: Americans who live in rural communities have an increased risk of death from heart disease, cancer, unintentional injury, stroke, and chronic lower respiratory disease. There has also been a higher rate of suicide and opioid overdoses shown in rural communities. To improve rural community’s health it is important that we focus on social determinants that negatively impact health. By offering telemedicine, increasing job training opportunities and helping children achieve success academically; we can help improve the health of those living in rural populations.
• Thursday, April 4th – Technology and Public Health: Technology can be a powerful public health tool. It can be used to help educate and advocate communities, can help practitioners swap their best practices, can be used for GIS mapping, and can even be used as a text line to find out information about certain health topics. It is important that public health funding levels continue to be supported to allow workers to have access to the latest technology.
• Friday, April 5th – Climate Change: Climate change is seen as one of the greatest threats to public health. It can lead to natural disasters, impact food security, water and air quality, and even increase the risk of vector-borne diseases. Climate change is a real issue that has already begun to occur. Supporting policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, carpooling, and steering toward renewable, clean energies instead of fossil fuels can help make a difference in climate change and our health.
• Saturday and Sunday, April 6th & 7th – Global Health: America’s health and the world’s health are fundamentally connected. Consider that during the H1N1 flu pandemic, the virus quickly traveled around the world and a global effort was required to track its movements and eventually contain the disease. Across the world, communities still struggle with preventable and often-neglected diseases. The World Health Organization’s top 10 threats to global health include: pandemic flu, cholera, violent conflict, malaria, malnutrition and natural disasters.
Public Health covers a wide variety of topic areas. According to the WHO, public health refers to all organized measures (whether public or private) to prevent disease, promote health, and prolong life among the population as a whole. Its activities aim to provide conditions in which people can be healthy and focus on entire populations, not on individual patients or diseases. It is important to remember that most of public health is prevention!
“As you can see, public health isn’t just about being physically healthy,” stated Paul Pettit, Genesee and Orleans County Public Health Director. “It includes the health of the whole body and mind, as well as community resiliency, and the safety of the environment we live, work and play in. The Health Departments’ are moving into the role of Chief Health Strategists, we want to embrace and encourage our communities to work with us to create new and innovative ways to improve health, so please reach out.”
The benefits of prevention are undeniable. For example, public health is credited with adding 25 years to life expectancy of people in the United States. “Promoting public health in community development, local businesses and through community events will help us move toward being the healthiest counties in New York State,” stated Dr. Gregory Collins, Commissioner of Wyoming County Public Health.
What can you do throughout the year to encourage better health in your home, neighborhood, work place and county?