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  • Public health sounds straightforward… but what is it?
    Added by My Identity Doctor
    national public health week logo
    Yesterday began National Public Health Week. While public health sounds pretty straightforward—public! people around us! health! not being sick!—is public health as simple as what it sounds like? What is the purpose of National Public Health Week? And how do we do better at ensuring we stay healthy and keep our communities the same way?
    What is Public Health?
    In searching for public heath on Google, I primarily encountered governmental agencies responsible for public health. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) stated the activities of public health “focus on preventing disease and injuries, promoting good physical and mental health, and providing information to support informed decision making.” [1]
    It continued to say PHAC “values scientific excellence and provides national leadership in response to public health threats”. [1]
    While this is the statement of just one governmental agency, I do think it summates well what public health is: a multi-faceted, collaborative effort of governments, professionals, and community members to promote health in the largest sense possible, providing education with accessibly-messaged science!
    The many facets of public health
    Public health is about more than preventing colds, ad campaigns for flu shots, promoting hand washing, and ensuring communities have access to healthcare—although these are all important pieces of the public health discussion.
    Public health agencies consider all kinds of information with regard to various populations—age, living situations, culture, workplaces, economics—when exploring how to make communities healthier.
    Here are some quick “big picture” points the American Public Health Association [2]:
    • Rural health
    • Climate change
    • Violence prevention
    • Tech(nology) and public health
    • Global health
    Here are just some quick focus points from the Public Health Agency of Canada [1]:
    • Providing public health notices
    • Immunization and vaccine information
    • Infectious diseases (both common and in response to epidemic or other disease threats)
    • Food safety (ie. recalls, allergy alerts)
    • Travel health considerations
    • Emergency preparedness and response
    • Health promotion (education on risks of alcohol, cigarette, cannabis and drug use)
    • Injury prevention
    It is National Public Health Week
    National Public Health Week (NPHW) was started by the American Public Health Association (APHA). As we’ve discovered, understanding public health can be a bit tricky, and clearly APHA knew it, too!
    To learn more about public health this week, you can visit the APHA’s NPHW website (so many acronyms!) to see what is coming up, and how you can learn more about public health, such as through webinars and Twitter chats.
    Being prepared
    A big part of public health is simply that of being prepared for the unpredictable. While we can predict flu season will come every year, it’s in researcher’s best educated guesses, for instance, which strains will be most prominent and need to be included in annual flu vaccines. Living with a chronic disease is similarly unpredictable—we simply never know when we are going to encounter a food allergen, an asthma trigger, have a low blood sugar episode with diabetes, or experience a seizure if you have epilepsy. Wearing medical ID jewelry is a way you can prepare for the unexpected, and help others know what they can do to help. While your choice to wear medical ID may not affect public health, the people around you can certainly impact your health. Being prepared, big and small, can go a long way.
    Published by My Identity Doctor on April 5, 2019


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