XENIA — During National Public Health Week 2017, April 3-9, the public health community is rallying to make the U.S. the “healthiest nation in one generation” by 2030.
According to the United Nations, although the U.S. spends more per capita on health care than any other nation in the world, U.S. residents have a life expectancy of 77.9 years, lower than 28 other countries. As we focus on becoming a healthier nation, Greene County Public Health urges residents to remember that health choices and challenges are woven into every day, and are profoundly impacted by where people live, work, worship, and play.
National Public Health week focuses on a different theme each day during the campaign, and this year’s celebration focuses on ambitious and global ideas:
Build a nation of safe, healthy communities
Health must be a priority in designing our communities, from healthy housing to parks and playgrounds. Walking and biking must coexist with cars and public transportation. Violence in our homes and crime in the community create barriers that keep families from their full potential. Environments must allow everyone to safely live, work, learn and play. Support farmers markets and local businesses that value health, such as retailers that don’t sell tobacco.
Help all young people graduate from high school
Education is the leading indicator of good health, giving people access to better jobs, incomes and neighborhoods. Encourage participation in early childhood programs that help parents recognize their child’s emotions and promote child development. Call for policies that start with early school success and lead to higher on-time high school graduation rates. Be a champion for school-based health centers in your local schools. Become a mentor — you can make a difference!
The relationship between increased economic mobility and better health
The science is clear: Poverty and poor health go hand-in-hand. It’s time to fix our country’s growing income inequality and the unhealthy stresses it puts on adults and children. Support policies that ensure a living wage and remove barriers that make it harder to advance to higher incomes.
Social justice and health
Everyone has the right to good health. We must remove barriers so everyone has the same opportunity to improve their lives and their health. Speak out against racism and an unequal criminal justice system. Demand a fair allocation of community resources. Fight against the trend of growing voter restrictions. Everyone needs a voice in improving our communities.
Give everyone a choice of healthy food
Our food system should provide affordable food with nutritious ingredients, free from harmful contaminants. For many families, eating healthy is a daily challenge. Call for policies that help eliminate food deserts and bring healthy food to all neighborhoods and schools. Support measures like menu labeling that help people make healthier choices. Start a community garden. Volunteer for a local food bank!
Preparing for the health effects of climate change
Our health is connected to our environments. What happens upstream to our environments at work, school and home affects our health downstream. Support policies that protect the air we breathe indoors and outdoors and the clean water we drink as well as those that help protect our health from natural and manmade weather events and disasters.
Provide quality health care for everyone
Health reform was just a start. To fulfill its potential, we must continue to pursue options for expanded access to quality care at the federal, state and local levels. But we also need to shift the main focus of our health system from one that treats illness to one that equally emphasizes prevention.
Strengthen public health infrastructure and capacity
Strong and consistent funding levels are necessary for the public health system to respond to both everyday health threats and also unexpected health emergencies. Support more funding for key public health agencies like the CDC and HRSA. These agencies strengthen the public health workforce and are a major source of funding for state and local programs
“For those people who want to improve their health, I offer these suggestions…take small steps like eliminating unhealthy food and increasing fruits and vegetables. Make your health a gift to yourself and be satisfied with improvements that you gain. Having an app or a friend to keep you motivated can make physical activity fun and not a chore,” said Melissa Branum, Greene County Health Commissioner.
“Individuals, schools, businesses, the medical community, and Greene County Public Health all play a part in the success of our district.. We partner with healthcare networks to provide coordinated messages about the importance infant safe sleep. Our nutritionists and health educators are working in all parts of the county to improve nutrition and promote breastfeeding so we can all have a healthier future. Our inspectors are making sure the food we eat, the air we breathe and the water we drink is free of bacteria and toxins. In the community, our parks and trails offer every opportunity for residents to increase their physical activity and our local communities support better health through policies like walkable space or going tobacco-free”, Branum added.
To learn more about national public health week, visit www.nphw.org. For more about Greene County Public Health, please visit www.gcph.info.
Story courtesy of Greene County Public Health.