By: Dr. Samer Koutoubi, Program Director, Public Health
American Public University System is proud to be a 2017 National Partner with the American Public Health Association (APHA) to celebrate National Public Health Week (NPHW), April 3-9, 2017. The event will bring together communities across the country to recognize public health contributions and highlight issues critical to improving our nation’s health. This year’s theme, “Healthiest Nation 2030,” defines one central challenge for Americans: to make the U.S. the “healthiest nation in one generation.”
Many positive things are happening today in public health. For example, the Generation Public Health movement seeks to improve both the health and wellness of our communities. No one can do it alone and each one of us can play a role in making America a healthier nation. It takes a team to make a change. Let your voice be heard and make a difference in your community decision-making. Let us work together and join the movement for a healthier America.
Public health professionals work and collaborate with community leaders, healthcare facilities, and state and federal government to address the health and wellness needs of all Americans. Together, let us build a healthy and strong community, which is the collective responsibility of both the public and private sector. Promoting the health and well-being of our individuals and communities should be our priority. A healthy community starts with a healthy individual.
Let us focus on health education and health promotion and develop and implement nutrition and other public health policies for our schools and workplaces. Promoting wellness by encouraging healthy behaviors should be our focus to prevent and treat high levels of obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. Public health professionals need to work to promote healthy eating and physical activity so that it can be sustained through a person’s lifetime. The goal of health promotion is to help people establish an active lifestyle and healthy eating habits early in life and to maintain these healthy behaviors throughout their lives.
Eating healthy, having enough food and being able to afford nutritious foods are daily challenges for many families, especially those who are at or below the poverty line and are unable to buy healthy foods and fresh produce so rely more on poorly-made processed food. This can lead to the development of many chronic diseases and increase the rates of hypertension, obesity, and diabetes in our communities. Public health professionals should work on the development of policies that bring affordable, fresh foods to all neighborhoods and schools. Support measures like menu labeling that helps people make healthier choices, and starting community gardens, for example, will promote a healthy lifestyle, reduce chronic diseases and improve our nation’s overall health.
We all know that health is linked to education. At APUS, we take our social commitment seriously to prepare our public health students to serve as practitioners, researchers and instructors and effectively carry out broad public health functions. Our collective mission should be to create community health-based programs to prevent chronic diseases and create public health policies that start with early school success and lead to better high school graduation rates. We all can make a difference by volunteering in our local school and community and becoming a mentor, or Big Brother/Big Sister.
This year, APHA will host its seventh annual NPHW Twitter Chat on April 5 at 2 p.m. EDT. Follow @NPHW to learn more about the NPHW 2017 Twitter Chat! Use the official hashtag, #NPHWchat, in your tweets so users can easily search for what you and others are saying during the event. Let’s make America the healthiest nation in one generation!