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What is Public Health?

From the American Public Health Association:

Public health promotes and protects the health of people and the communities where they live, learn, work and play.

While a doctor treats people who are sick, those of us working in public health try to prevent people from getting sick or injured in the first place. We also promote wellness by encouraging healthy behaviors.

From conducting scientific research to educating about health, people in the field of public health work to assure the conditions in which people can be healthy. That can mean vaccinating children and adults to prevent the spread of disease. Or educating people about the risks of alcohol and tobacco. Public health sets safety standards to protect workers and develops school nutrition programs to ensure kids have access to healthy food.

Public health works to track disease outbreaks, prevent injuries and shed light on why some of us are more likely to suffer from poor health than others. The many facets of public health include speaking out for laws that promote smoke-free indoor air and seatbelts, spreading the word about ways to stay healthy and giving science-based solutions to problems.

Public health saves money, improves our quality of life, helps children thrive and reduces human suffering.

Some examples of the many fields of public health:

  • First responders
  • Restaurant inspectors
  • Health educators
  • Scientists and researchers
  • Nutritionists
  • Community planners
  • Social workers
  • Epidemiologists
  • Public health physicians
  • Public health nurses
  • Occupational health and safety professionals
  • Public policymakers
  • Sanitarians

Learn more by visiting the American Public Health Association

Most of us are familiar with the parental-like voice in the back of our minds that helps guide our decision-making-asking us questions like, "Have you called your grandmother lately?" For many that voice serves as a gentle, yet constant reminder to wash our hands.

Among the many lessons learned during the 2017 Hurricane season, we recognized that addressing children's mental and behavioral health needs is a major concern in hurricane-affected areas.

CDC's At Risk Task Force (ARTF) was established in 2017 to ensure identification and prioritization of the mental and physical health needs of at-risk populations, including children. ARTF's first Emergency Operations Center (EOC) activation was on Aug. 31, 2017, in response to Hurricane Harvey, the first of three consecutive hurricanes to hit the United States and its territories in a five-week period. ARTF's mission was to address the needs of at-risk populations in affected areas throughout the response and recovery phases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reminding clinicians seeing patients from the areas affected by Hurricane Florence to maintain a high index of suspicion for CO poisoning. Other people who may be exposed to the same CO source may need to be identified and assessed.

Every fall and winter the United States experiences epidemics of seasonal influenza (flu). Sometimes a flu pandemic occurs due to a new flu virus that spreads and causes illnesses around the world. We cannot predict when a flu pandemic will occur, but over the past 100 years, we have documented four flu pandemics resulting in close to 1 million deaths in the United States alone.

The Israeli Ministry of Health is reporting an outbreak of leptospirosis in persons with exposure to natural water sources in the Golan Heights region of northern Israel after July 1, 2018. As of September 6, 2018, three persons with leptospirosis who traveled to Israel have been identified in the United States, with additional suspected cases reported and under investigation. Early symptoms of leptospirosis include fever, headache, chills, muscle aches, vomiting, diarrhea, cough, conjunctival suffusion (conjunctival redness without exudates), jaundice, and sometimes a rash. Clinicians should consider leptospirosis as a diagnosis in any patient who develops an acute febrile illness within 4 weeks of travel to one of the areas in northern Israel listed below since July 1, 2018.