• Anonymous

National Public Health Week

This week is National Public Health Week. According to the National Public Health Week organization website, "This week, we celebrate public health's successes, and we look to solving our most pressing challenges.

Public health is diverse, and goes well beyond our local health departments and universities. Public health is:

  • the grassroots organizer at city hall, demanding clean water for area schoolchildren.

  • the health providers and patients who show up at Capitol Hill to advocate for commonsense gun laws, response to climate change and health coverage for all.

  • the students holding their schools accountable for responding to threats of violence on campus.

  • the neighbors who build community gardens on abandoned plots of land.

  • individuals who volunteer to share their health information with researchers, ensuring our knowledge of health is inclusive and responds to everyone's needs."

During each day of National Public Health Week, the NPHW organization focuses on a particular public health topic. Monday is: Healthy Communities.

"It's clear: People's health, longevity and well-being are connected to their communities — the places we live, learn, work, worship and play. For example, national health officials report at least 4 million U.S. households are home to children who are being exposed to high levels of lead, and about 6 million U.S. homes are considered substandard. Exposure to air pollution is linked to serious respiratory conditions such as asthma, and millions of Americans still get their drinking water through lead pipes. Communities of color often face greater community health risks — such as poorer air quality — and have fewer health-promoting opportunities — such as safe places to walk — than their white counterparts.

Defend the critical role of strong public health systems in creating healthier communities and urge decisionmakers to make health a priority in all policymaking. Work across sectors and outside of traditional public health circles to expand health-promoting opportunities. For example, help employers organize flu shot clinics, partner with transportation planners to expand safe biking and walking opportunities, or work with environmental justice groups to reach particularly vulnerable residents. Apply a health equity lens to ensure your efforts reach those most in need. 

Smart local policies that prioritize health can make a difference. For instance, research shows that well-maintained sidewalks can encourage physical activity and that safe biking networks lead to more cycling and fewer injuries among bicyclists. Rates of preventable deaths — such as deaths from heart disease, diabetes and cancer — typically go down in communities where local public health spending goes up. Other research finds that deaths from cardiovascular disease, diabetes and the flu decline significantly in communities that expand their networks in support of population health goals. And removing leaded drinking water serviece lines would save billions of dollars in future health and productivity. Where people live — not just how  they live — impacts their health, income, education and life expectancy."