Here’s a question for you, let’s see if you can get it. Which of the following are duties, accomplishments or topics based in Public Health?
- Creating local food markets
- Seeing patients and diagnosing illnesses or disorders
- Setting the Minimum Wage
- Eradication of smallpox and near eradication of polio
- Setting speed Limits
- Advises individual treatment options to patients
The answers are local food markets, setting a healthy minimum wage, the eradication of smallpox and speed limits. The other two options, diagnosing illnesses or disorders and advising treatments, may seem like the right answer, but these are actually the duties of healthcare professionals.
Public Health is population focused while healthcare is individual focused. Food markets are encouraged by public health specialists because they give local fresh food instead of fast food which would possibly lower the obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease rates for that neighborhood or city. Setting the minimum wage at an appropriate level that it would allow individuals to cover their basic health needs and decrease the amount of money lost in the healthcare system and economy do to poverty. By use of mass vaccination, Public Health specialists were able to make it so that next to no one gets polio and no one gets small pox. Instead of treating, they prevented and averted the continuing disability and death caused by these diseases. Speed limits was a tricky one, but they are set by public health at levels that decrease accidents.
It took hundreds of thousands of generations to get the life expectancy up to about 40 years at the beginning of the 1900’s. Thanks to public health efforts and an advancement in medicine we have added 30 years to that in three generations. While this is great, the United States is ranked 34th for life expectancy. One of the goals of National Public Health Week is to create the healthiest country in just one generation, by 2030.
Now, can you think of some careers or people that you would consider in public health? You can probably think of health educators, either in high school or community level. If you know the fancy term epidemiologist you’re right on the money. Here are some examples of people that this week is honoring.
- All High School teachers- By educating the young to graduation, you decrease the chances of poverty
- Environmentalists- Having a healthy environment, both for work and play, has a tremendous impact on our overall health
- Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counselors- A healthy mind is also included in being considered a healthy person.
- Environmental Health Emergency Response Expert- These are the people that coordinate for disaster relief during an earthquake, hurricane, flood or other disaster.
- Consumer Safety Officer- These are the people that make sure producers are following the FDA’s regulations and guidelines to ensure that the food supply is health.
- Researchers- Be it Vaccine, Treatment, Development or any other kind, they play an essential role in moving our health forward.
- There are many more and the list would go on and on if everyone was put on here.