The CDC announced that the week of April 7, 2014 is National Public Health Week. Doesn’t sound as exciting as National Bacon Day. But, it is worth noting, nonetheless. During the first full week of April each year since 1995, the American Public Health Association (APHA) brings together communities across the United States to observe National Public Health Week (NPHW), which is a time to recognize the contributions of public health and highlight issues important to improving our nation.
This year, during the annual campaign, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are hoping to inspire everyone to be a: “Public Health Nerds,” who focus on bringing communities together to promote good health. I’ve always considered myself a firedog nerd and that’s okay because I’ve always believed that nerds are cool.
Each day of the weeklong promotion, the CDC will release a relevant image to represent the daily theme. Monday’s image pays homage to the theme, “Be healthy from the start,” supporting the health benefits of breastfeeding. From maternal health and school nutrition to emergency preparedness, the message is that public health starts at home. Other daily messages will include:
Tuesday: Don’t panic. Disaster preparedness starts with community-wide commitment and action.
Wednesday: Get out ahead. Prevention is now a nationwide priority.
Thursday: Eat well. The system that keeps our nation’s food safe and healthy is complex. I sure hope pork chops are considered healthy. They’re one of my mainstays.
Friday: Be the healthiest nation in one generation. Best practices for community health come from around the globe.
The CDC hopes they’ll strike a chord with what they are referring to as their “nerd” campaign, encouraging people to track the topic using the hashtag #PHNerd. I’ll be posting my “firedogisms” this week using that hashtag. Join the conversation!
“Those of us who work in public health have the shared responsibility of communicating information to save and improve lives of Americans,” said CDC Deputy Director Judith A. Monroe, MD. “CDC’s Public Health Nerd campaign and APHA’s National Public Health Week achieve this objective by increasing awareness about health issues, which helps Americans make informed health care choices.”
Despite the dramatic progress achieved through a century of public health advancements — the elimination of polio, fluoridation of drinking water and seatbelt laws — our nation’s health falls far short of its potential.
- The U.S. life expectancy has reached a record-high of 78, but still ranks 46th behind Japan and most of Europe.
- A baby born in the U.S. is more likely to die before its first birthday than a child born in almost any other developed country.
- The U.S. is among the top 10 countries that have the most people with HIV/AIDS, and it is estimated that one in 20 residents in the nation’s capital are HIV-positive.
- Disparities persist with ethnic minority populations having nearly eight times the death rate for key health conditions, such as diabetes, than that of non-minority populations.
- Steak hasn’t yet been turned into medication. I think this is something we should spend time trying to tackle.
Next year’s public health week will be April 6-12, 2015. But you don’t have to wait for an official marketing campaign to take care of yourself. The good news is that we have the potential to greatly improve our population’s health in the future by adopting these 10 good health habits:
- Eat right and drink plenty of water. I love drinking water, especially out of porcelain bowls.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Move. Maybe take your dog for a walk!
- Manage stress.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- If you’re sick, stay home.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
- Keep your hands clean.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Keep your home and workplace safe. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, especially when someone is ill.
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