A Look Back at National Public Health Week

The first week of April marked National Public Health Week 2019. It led to a series of active discussions and publications on pressing health issues that affect the public and innovative solutions by public health practitioners. I really enjoyed the focus on issues that may not be considered the tradition domain of public health—like violence prevention and climate change—but are clearly relevant to the wellbeing of populations. Was also excited to have 83 South Health join the list of NPHW Partners (under Local or County).

Communities and Violence Prevention

There were daily themes and the social media tag #NPHW on Twitter. The week kicked off with Healthy Communities on Monday and Violence Prevention on Tuesday. The public health spotlight on communities moves beyond health as individual choice alone to include the built environment, social and economic factors and policy. Guns were a major theme in talks about violence, which is a vital concern in the United States. The Center for Gun Policy and Research at Johns Hopkins University is engaged in research on this issue.

Wednesday’s theme was Rural Health, which is a key challenge in states like North Carolina. According to the Office of Rural Health in the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, their initiatives are centered on improving “…access, quality and cost-effectiveness in real and underserved communities…”

Technology

Thursday was about Technology and Public Health. This is such a huge topic that it could have an entire week (or month) dedicated to it! Technology includes mobile apps, wearables and smartphones that can support individuals with behavior change and connect them to vital expertise. In hospitals and clinics, the focus is often on electronic health records. Digital Health as has been growing so rapidly that the WHO released guidelines on interventions.

It also includes progress in areas like genetics and genomics, where scientists have discovered new ways to diagnose and treat diseases with technology like CRISPR. A great resource that’s easy to understand is the Genetics Home Reference from the National Library of Medicine. This year’s international Cancer Education Conference theme highlights the role of technology, whether it involves databases, genomics or multimedia tools.

Climate Change and Global Health

Friday was all about Climate Change which coincided with the Netflix release of Our Planet, a documentary on climate change impact on nature around the world. (The film has stunning visuals, narration and a gripping storyline.)

The week ended with a focus on global health . The UNC Center for Global Health and Infectious Disease hosted its 12 year anniversary with a symposium featuring speakers from UNC Chapel Hill and beyond like Richard Chaisson of Johns Hopkins University and Paul Farmer of Harvard University and Partners In Health. This which was very timely as April 7th also marked World Health Day, with a focus on the goal of universal health coverage.

Though National Public Health Week is over, it’s also the beginning of important conversations and a renewed commitment to solutions in public health.

Image courtesy of exhibit by the UNC Institute of Global Health and Infectious Diseases

Yvonne Angwenyi