Friday, February 12, 2016

Fight for a Healthier America During National Public Health Week

What a perfect week for a public health nerd like me to celebrate a "healthier America."

Fight for a Healthier America During National Public Health Week


Just when I thought there couldn’t be another day or week drawing attention to my favorite “theme” or “cause”—I missed “World Day of the Snowman” back in January because our weird weather left us without a winter, and last month’s “Pi Day” just wasn’t my thing—along comes National Public Health Week. What a perfect week for a public health nerd like me to celebrate a “healthier America.”

But this isn’t simply the week to bust out your early 1990s Suzanne Somers’ ThighMaster to finally get back into shape. This is a week to get involved in your community to improve the public’s health as well as your own. Ever since 1995, when President Bill Clinton proclaimed the first week in April National Public Health Week, the American Public Health Association (APHA) has been helping to coordinate and organize events around the country to “unite around a critical public health issue and focus our collective energy on the singular goal of helping people live longer, happier, healthier lives.” (Full disclosure: I am one of the 55,000 members of APHA).

I had a chance to speak last week with Kimberly Moore, APHA's director of affiliate affairs. With a background in tobacco prevention, Moore is no stranger to the challenges of public health prevention efforts. But National Public Health Week offers unique challenges, coordinating hundreds of public health-related organizations around the country to help plan events that promote the public's health. Most events are funded at the local level, but APHA provides “comprehensive planning, organizing and outreach materials that can be used during and after the week to raise awareness.”

Every year, the week has a different theme. Last year’s, “Safety is No Accident,” focused on injury prevention and partnered with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Control and Prevention to coordinate events.

This year’s theme, “A Healthier America Begins Today” focuses on “the issue of prevention and wellness to ensure that all is being done to improve our nation’s health.” The publication last year of the National Prevention Strategy, “a comprehensive plan that will help increase the number of Americans who are healthy at every stage of life,” Moore said, provided a “unique opportunity to engage and expand upon that principle and emphasize prevention and wellness strategies.” According to Moore, “prevention is a key to living a long and healthy life.”

So from Monday through April 8, National Public Health Week will roll into communities across the country. You can attend events like “Gardening is Good for You (and your health)!” with the University of Maryland public health garden team, who will discuss the connections between gardening and good health, or a panel discussion in Atlanta examining “The Impact of Alcohol Use On Injuries and Violence.”

In this region, the week's partners include the Drexel University School of Public Health, the Pennsylvania Public Health Association, Temple University, and the University of Pennsylvania, as well as local health departments. You can learn more about the events, many of which are being coordinated by Drexel, at this link. Among the topics being explored here in Philly this week are “Active Living and Healthy Eating,” “Preventing Communicable Diseases,” “Reproductive and Sexual Health,” and “Mental and Emotional Well-Being.”

These activities are a great way to learn more about what public health is and how we can come together to improve our health. With the Supreme Courts’ impending ruling on the Affordable Care Act, which embraces wellness and prevention efforts, we would do well to get involved in public health. Given the tone of last week’s oral arguments before the court, our nation’s wellness and prevention efforts may be scaled back significantly, and that would be a giant step in the wrong direction.

Read more about The Public's Health.

We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy: comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
comments powered by Disqus
About this blog

What is public health — and why does it matter?

Through prevention, education, and intervention, public health practitioners - epidemiologists, health policy experts, municipal workers, environmental health scientists - work to keep us healthy.

It’s not always easy. Michael Yudell, Jonathan Purtle, and other contributors tell you why.

Michael Yudell, PhD, MPH Associate Professor, Dornsife School of Public Health, Drexel University
Jonathan Purtle, DrPH, MSc Assistant Professor, Drexel University School of Public Health
Janet Golden, PhD Professor of history, Rutgers University-Camden
Latest Health Videos
Also on
letter icon Newsletter