National Public Health Week
Health Article by Larry D. Jones, MPH, Health Director
April 2, 2013
April 1 – 7 is National Public Health Week. This year’s theme is “Public Health is ROI: Save Lives, Save Money”. Money that we spend on public health and disease prevention is a wise investment, saving even more down the road. If we invested $10 per person each year in community-based public health efforts, we could save more than $16 billion as a nation within five years—a return of $5.60 for every $1 spent.
Each day of this week has its own theme. Monday’s theme is “Ensuring a Safe, Healthy Home for Your Family”. Fires, accidental poisonings, and falls are all too common in American households. Take time this week to make sure that medications and household cleaners are stored out of the reach of children. If you didn’t check the batteries in your smoke detectors when you changed your clocks, this would be a great time to do it. Take fire prevention a step further by making your home a tobacco-free zone. Get your kids involved in these activities to teach them the importance of health and safety early in their lives.
Tuesday’s theme is “Providing a Safe Environment for Children at School”. Kids spend a lot of time at school, so it’s important that the school environment is safe and promotes health. Learn about health-related programs at your community schools, including policies about tobacco use on school grounds, physical education requirements, food and beverages available to students during the day, and education about sexual health, alcohol, and drug use. Finally, bullying has become a major concern in communities across the nation. Talk to your kids, other parents, and school officials about what the school is doing to prevent bullying at school and on the internet.
Just as children spend a lot of time at school, adults spend a lot of time at work. Wednesday’s theme is “Creating a Healthy Workplace”. Great strides have been made in workplace safety in recent decades, and many companies are offering worksite wellness programs to their employees. This isn’t just a nice perk, it’s good business—for every dollar invested in worksite wellness, employee medical costs drop by $3.27. If you own a business and would like to know more about worksite wellness options, visit www.cdc.gov and search for “worksite wellness”, or call the health department at 325-7185.
Thursday’s theme is “Protecting You While You're on the Move”. We are all responsible for traveling safely, whether in a personal vehicle, by bicycle, or on foot. Seat belts, bike and motorcycle helmets, and safe habits are essential. But safety on the road is also tied to community design. In Independence, more bike lanes and sidewalks are making it easier for residents to be safe while using active forms of transportation.
The theme for Friday focuses on our city as a whole: “Empowering a Healthy Community”. The local public health system promotes health for all residents by reducing the spread of diseases through immunizations, disease tracking and prevention, environmental health programs, and preparing for public health emergencies. In addition to these activities, the Independence Health Department is working to increase access to healthful foods and opportunities for physical activity, reduce tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke, and increasing health and safety in our community’s childcare facilities.
There’s plenty of evidence that investing in public health makes good financial sense, but we get the most value from public health efforts in terms of human lives. Investing in public health helps all of us live longer, healthier, more enjoyable lives. And that is simply not something we can quantify in terms of dollars and cents. For more information on National Public Health Week and this year’s theme, visit www.nphw.org. To learn more about how the Independence Health Department is working to invest in our community’s health, visit www.ci.independence.mo.us/health.