By Anna Lenhart, MPH, Project Manager
What is public health? Not getting polio. Buckling your seat belt. Not inhaling secondhand smoke. Laying your sleeping infant on her back. Getting a glass of water without worrying it will make you sick. Putting on a bike helmet. Decreased infant mortality rates. Increased safety in the workplace. The past contributions and ongoing work of the public health community touch our lives every day, through the things we see and do, and more importantly – through the things we no longer see and do.
Today, April 6, is the first day of the 20th annual National Public Health Week (NPHW). Started in 1985, NPHW takes place each year during the first week of April to recognize the important contributions public health has made to our nation in the past and highlights issues important to creating a healthy future. This year’s theme is Healthiest Nation 2030 – a unique challenge calling upon every individual to help make the United States the healthiest nation in the span of one generation.
The United States has tremendous resources and has made great strides to improve the health and wellbeing of our nation’s citizens. There is an increased importance placed on prevention and a holistic approach to health and wellness. Uninsurance rates are at their lowest levels in over a decade. The teen birthrate has fallen 52 percent since the early 1990s. Last year, CVS Pharmacy announced all of their locations would be tobacco-free.
However, compared to many of our global neighbors, we still have much work to do to make the U.S. the healthiest nation in the world in just 15 years. The reemergence of formally eradicated diseases, a worrisome obesity epidemic, the presence of food deserts, environmental barriers to health, the still staggering rate of tobacco use, and other issues affect the health of our citizens, and often place the most vulnerable among us at increased risk. One population with an increased risk of experiencing negative health outcomes and decreased access to public health promotion programs, services and supports are people with disabilities.
NPHW is a great opportunity for us to come together as a nation, as a local community, and as a family to assess our commitment to improving our own health, the health of those around us, and the health of our country.
Each NPHW day has a theme and a call to action. To learn more about each day, click on the links below:
- Monday, April 6: Raising the Grade
- Tuesday, April 7: Starting from Zip
- Wednesday, April 8: Building Momentum
- Thursday, April 9: Building Broader Connections
- Friday, April 10: Building on 20 Years of Success
The best way to make a positive change is to learn more about the problems, solutions, issues, and challenges we face. Armed with resources, facts, and information, we can all contribute to promoting public health in our own communities, meeting the challenge of creating a healthier nation in a generation.
Creating a healthier nation by 2030 starts with what you can do now in 2015. Join me in signing the pledge to help make the United States the healthiest nation by 2030.
For more resources and information, visit:
The American Public Health Association: https://www.apha.org/
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyLiving/
Ten Great Public Health Achievements in the 20th Century: http://www.cdc.gov/about/history/tengpha.htm
Disability and Healthy Living: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disabilityandhealth/healthyliving.html
Building Accessible Workplace Health and Wellness Programs: http://neweditions.net/products/documents/employer-resource-implementing-accessible-health-and-wellness-program
To learn more about some of New Editions’ current and previous work on health and disability projects, or for additional resources about improving the overall health and wellness for people with disabilities, visit:
Anna Lenhart has a MPH in Maternal and Child Health. She is a project manager at New Editions and focuses on health and community integration for people with disabilities. Read Anna's bio.