Health and Family Services Cabinet
Focus on Public Health
April 2-8 is National Public Health Week
The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) is working to promote Public Health Week, an annual observance that focuses on a critical public health issue to raise awareness and help people live longer, healthier lives.
“In some ways, public health touches everyone every day in Kentucky. We are working hard to make our public health system even stronger, including ongoing work to become nationally accredited,” said Dr. Steve Davis, acting DPH commissioner. “We hope this week will serve as an opportunity for the public to learn more about the vital role of public health in Kentucky.”
This year, National Public Health Week focuses on the importance of prevention and wellness in long-term health and well-being. The National Public Health Association (NPHA) selected the theme because of the significant impact of chronic disease on the American population.
According to NPHA, every year, chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes are responsible for millions of premature deaths. Americans miss 2.5 billion days of work because of these illnesses, and all of that lost productivity adds up to more than $1 trillion. Injuries, unexpected accidents and violence affect people daily in all aspects of life. Unintentional injuries, such as motor vehicle crashes, poisonings, and burns rank among the top 10 causes of death for people aged 44 and younger.
“Often, these horrible diseases and injuries could have been prevented with more attention to lifestyle choices like physical activity and nutrition or preventive safety measures,” said Davis. “The health care community – as well as the individual – must work to understand the risk for developing chronic disease and avoiding injury so that we can prevent complications. This is key to improving the health of our state.”
In addition to clinical services, education and health outreach, public health is also instrumental in emergency response, as evidenced by DPH’s recent efforts in Morgan County after the area was severely damaged by tornadoes.
Public health services in Morgan County were restored by the Monday following the tornado, which occurred on a Friday evening. In addition, vouchers for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program were available for distribution almost immediately, allowing residents to use the program to purchase food for their families.
Meanwhile, public health staff in other areas affected by tornadoes responded within 24 hours of the crisis, and the Department’s Operations Center in Frankfort was mobilized during the event and continued to operate around the clock, offering centralized communications, guidance and staff support to local health departments, emergency officials, volunteers and members of the public.
“The contribution of public health is tremendous – both on a day-to-day basis and in times of crisis,” said Davis. “I encourage everyone to go online to read more about our public health programs; talk to your health care provider about chronic disease and injury prevention; or, better yet, visit your local health department to learn more about how public health can – and does – improve your life.”
DPH is promoting the national theme of A Healthier America Begins Today: Join the Movement in hopes of encouraging Kentuckians and their communities to take preventive measures to help improve their lives, keeping in mind that little steps can lead to big changes.
The American Public Health Association serves as the organizer of National Public Health Week and develops a national campaign to educate the public, policymakers and practitioners about issues related to that year’s theme. NPHA creates comprehensive planning, organizing and outreach materials that can be used during and after the week to raise awareness.
National Public Health Week is a time to unite around a critical public health issue and focus on the singular goal of helping people live longer, happier, healthier lives.
For more information about National Public Health Week, visit http://www.nphw.org/about. More information about Kentucky public health can be found at http://chfs.ky.gov/dph/default.htm.