Public health is one of the most important aspects of modern medicine. Public health is so important to the health and vitality of our nation that an entire week is devoted to raising awareness! This week, we celebrate National Public Health Week by recognizing the importance that each person plays in maintaining overall community health and wellness.
Public health refers to the art and science of keeping large populations of people healthy and disease-free through preventative measures such as hand washing, the use of condoms and vaccinations. In a message celebrating National Public Health Week 2014, President Obama stated that “all Americans deserve to lead a healthy life and achieve their full potential.”
In order for all Americans to live productive, healthy lives it must be recognized that public health maintenance is not just the responsibility of health care workers, but is very much dependent upon the choices and behaviors of everyday people. When a father makes sure that visitors wash their hands before touching his newborn baby, and asks if they have had their yearly flu shot, he is contributing to public health by stopping the potential transmission of a deadly disease such as influenza. When a young adult makes the choice to use a condom every time, he decreases the chances of developing a sexually-transmitted disease such as HIV and potentially infecting others. When a mother makes the choice to follow the recommended vaccine schedule for herself and her children, she not only protects the family unit from preventable illness, but she also protects others around her by contributing to community immunity. When at least ninety-nine percent of a population is vaccinated, herd immunity remains intact and the incidence of preventable diseases such as measles and meningitis remains extremely low.
When individuals fail to recognize the importance of their individual health choices in maintaining overall public health, such as choosing to forgo the necessary vaccine schedules without medical necessity, diseases and infections previously under control can quickly reemerge. The recent news reports of outbreaks of measles, pertussis (whooping cough) and meningitis are examples of preventable public health issues which were directly caused by the choices of a few individuals whose choices affected entire communities. As world travel increases, diseases previously referred to as endemic, or localized to one region of the world, now have the potential to become pandemic, or to spread across nations. Public health outbreaks in one small corner of the world can quickly evolve into worldwide problems in just a matter of weeks.
It is up to each one of us to make smart, educated health choices for ourselves and contribute to the overall wellness of our communities, our country and our world. We as individuals can make the difference between public health outbreaks and public health wellness. It’s not only vital to recognize the importance of public health this week, but every week! Josh Billings once said, “Health is like money, we never have a true idea of its value until we lose it.” Don’t ever forget the value of public health! Happy National Public Health Week!
Nurses Who Vaccinate is a proud partner of 2014's National Public Health Week!
President Obama’s full Message regarding National Public Health Week 2014
Join healthcare provides and public health advocates on Wednesday, April 9, from 2-3 p.m. EST for APHA’s fourth annual NPHW Twitter Chat! This is an opportunity to engage with other public health advocates and discuss important issues related to public health system transformation. Follow NPHW @NPHW to learn more about the 2014 Twitter Chat and other NPHW events!
Use the hashtag #NPHWchat to join the conversation.
Nurses who Vaccinate to contribute positively to the world of nursing.