April 6-12 is National Public Health Week. With COVID-19 continuing to spread, you’ve likely thought about public health more in the past two months than you have in a long time.
Public health promotes and protects the health of people and the communities where they live, learn, work and play. People working in public health try to prevent people from getting sick or injured.
When public health is working well we tend to forget about it. Public health helps make cities healthier, reduce environmental pollution, track the spread of disease, and promote nutrition and exercise. It encourages vaccinations, screenings, and hand washing.
Examples of careers in public health include primary care doctors, epidemiologists, environmental scientists, dietitians, community planners, social workers, and restaurant inspectors.
When there is an outbreak, we rely on public health professionals to study the disease, learn about how it is spread, and provide accurate information on steps to take to avoid getting sick. A quick and effective public health response can reduce the number of people who get sick and relieve strain on the hospital system. Having underfunded and under resourced public health systems hurts our response to new diseases.
Public health interventions help us “flatten the curve,” meaning reduce the number of people who are sick at one time so we reduce strain on the medical system. These public health measures include social distancing (reducing contact with others by reducing your time near other people as well as staying at least 6 feet from others), washing your hands often, and staying home if you are sick.
Here are some useful public health resources to help stop the spread and keep you safe:
- Coronavirus: How to protect yourself from COVID-19 (tips and resources to share with your friends, family and community) (APHA)
- Top 10 essential items for your emergency preparedness stockpile (APHA Get Ready)
- Hand-washing videos (CDC)
Food is public health too! If you are in need of food check out this resource for help in Massachusetts.
Written by Rachel Caty, MPH, RDN, LDN