The Awesomeness that is Public Health

image source: http://www.nphw.org

It’s National Public Health Week! So? You might be thinking, “Why should I care?” Well let me tell you why…

Public health is awesome (and I’m not just saying that). Thanks to the achievements of public health, we live longer and healthier lives. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, “life expectancy at birth among U.S. residents increased by 62%, from 47.3 years in 1900 to 76.8 in 2000.” Click here for the Top Ten Greatest Hits Achievements of Public Health.

Public health is more than just diet, exercise, and disease prevention. There’s also motor vehicle safety, tobacco control, and suicide prevention. Pretty much anything related to health and safety falls under the enormous umbrella of public health.

More proof that public health is awesome:

  • On average, 42,000 deaths per year are prevented among children who receive recommended childhood vaccines [1].
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of heart disease and stroke, blindness, kidney failure and lower-extremity amputation. Blood pressure control reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke) among people with diabetes by between 33 percent and 50 percent and the risk of microvascular disease (eye, kidney and nerve disease) by about 33 percent [2].
  • More than 80 million people in the United States do not have access to fluoridated water. Water fluoridation reduces tooth decay by 25 percent in children and adults, and every dollar spent on fluoridation saves more than $40 in dental treatment costs [3].

No one likes getting sick. So why not practice healthy habits so you won’t get sick in the first place? This year’s NPHW theme is “A Healthier America Begins Today: Join the Movement.” So, join the movement and get healthy! For health tips, check out getPHYT’s post, Oh Schmidt.

painting by numbers is magic.

What I like most about public health is the impact it can make. Public health is community health. Medicine is to the individual as public health is to the population. While doctors treat illnesses, public health professionals implement health promotion and health education.

Unlike medicine, there is no instant gratification with public health. It’s like Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel. It took him 4 years to paint its ceiling. 4 years! It might not take that long for public health practices to work, but they do take time. The end result, however, is a masterpiece.

Public health empowers individuals to take control of their own health. Just like painting by numbers, public health provides the tools and guidance we need to be healthy.You’re the artist that creates the masterpiece that is your health.

Sources:
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ten Great Public Health Achievements — United States, 2001—2010. MMWR 2011; 60(19):619-623.
  2. Curb JD, Pressel SL, Cutler JA, et al. Effect of diuretic-based antihypertensive treatment on cardiovascular disease risk in older diabetic patients with isolated systolic hypertension. Systolic Hypertension in the Elderly Program Cooperative Research Group. JAMA. 1996;276:1886-1892.
  3. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. National Health Expenditures 2009 Highlights. Available at https://www.cms.gov/ NationalHealthExpendData/downloads/highlights.pdf

By ALYSSA LLAMAS

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