Every day, public health employees work to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to lead a healthy life. As National Public Health Week approaches next week, the efforts of our public health professionals are worth a second look.
They collect the data to show which communities are at the highest risk and where resources are needed most. They convene diverse stakeholders and build the community capacity needed to solve a problem and sustain efforts for the long term. They empower communities with the tools, knowledge and resources to make a difference and take charge of their health.
As the country's leading voice for prevention and health equity, public health works in every corner of our communities -- the places where health happens and prevention comes to life.
We rarely consider the role public health plays in all of our lives. Such as:
* Ensuring a safe, healthy home for your family by promoting the easy and sometimes life-saving steps people and families can take to build a healthy home, such as promoting the installation of smoke alarms or creating a household emergency preparedness plan.
* Providing a safe environment for children at school by raising awareness of the links between good health and academic achievement and how schools can play a big role in improving children's health.
* Creating a healthy work place by teaching communities how public health works for them, especially in preventing illness and injury on the job; and by promoting wellness in the work place.
* Protecting you while you're on the move. Good health isn't stationary; it follows us from place to place. Promoting safe traveling practices, proper car seat installation and educating about the link between smart transportation planning and opportunities for safe outdoor physical activity.
* Empowering a healthy community. Public health's most important partners in achieving better health are the communities they serve. They engage and empower communities with the tools and resources to lead the movement for a healthier America.
Our local Montgomery County Public Health Department has asked that we all make just one positive change a day to improve our health. The value of a strong public health system is all around us -- in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and the places we all live, learn, work and play.
It's in the thousands of people whose lives are saved by seat belts, the young people who say no to tobacco, and the children given a healthy start thanks to vaccines. It is no stretch to say that we are all living examples of the public health return on investment. There is much more that can be done to empower a healthy community. Visit www.nphw.org to learn more.