National Public Health Week: What is Public Health and Why it is Important

Celebrating National Public Health Week

Over the last two years, many have become very familiar with local, state, and national public health departments as we looked for guidance from our elected leaders to navigate an unprecedented pandemic. And today, we kick off the celebration of National Public Health Week.

Every year, the United States takes the first full week of April to celebrate National Public Health Week in honor of all of the work that has been done for the good of the public’s health, as well as a time to reflect on the work still to do.

In a time of COVID-19, the term public health has come to be focused on mitigating the spread of the virus. But, public health looks at a lot more than just infectious diseases.

What is ‘Public Health’?

According to the Center for Disease Control Foundation, “Public health is the science of protecting and improving the health of people and their communities… Overall, public health is concerned with protecting the health of entire populations. These populations can be as small as a local neighborhood, or as big as an entire country or region of the world.

From expanding access to healthcare providers in Iowa’s smallest county to overseeing beach clean-ups around the world, public health looks at many different factors and their impact on the health of the populations around them. Our public health is affected by everything from our economy to our natural environments, and of course our elected officials.

And the kinds of jobs that cover public health are as diverse as the issues themselves. The American Public Health Association provides a list of some of the occupations, including:

-EMS and First Responders
-Social Workers
-Dieticians and Nutritional Workers
-Public Policy Makers
-and so many more!

Organization reacts to National Public Health Week

Today, Progress Iowa Executive Director Matt Sinovic issued the following statement in honor of National Public Health Week:

“Today kicks off National Public Health Week, a time for all of us to focus on the multi-faceted and intersectional areas of life that affect public health. From the rising costs of healthcare and prescription drugs to the existential threat of climate change, addressing public health crises has never been more important.

“But despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and other important public health issues, Iowa Republicans continue to ignore the needs of everyday Iowans. While Iowans struggle to afford life-saving medicine and find clean drinking water, Iowa Republicans focus on giving millions of dollars in tax breaks to the wealthiest corporations who drive up the prices of medicine and everyday needs for working families.

“And while just 100 companies create 71% of global greenhouse gas emissions, everyday Iowans are forced to deal with the consequences. From unprecedented climate disasters like the devastating derecho of 2020 or last year’s drought, we are seeing the effects of climate change in real time. We need elected officials who will address the public health crises of our time, not just push partisan agendas that make their corporate donors happy.”

Special Coverage this Week

This National Public Health Week Progress Iowa will be taking a closer look at areas of public health affecting the lives of everyday Iowans. You can find the plan for upcoming articles below. Additionally, these links will be updated to include the full articles when they are published.

Tuesday: Rising Levels of Gun Violence Threatens Public Health

Wednesday: Immigrants, Immigration, and Public Health in a Global Society

Thursday: Climate Change is the Biggest Threat this World Health Day

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