National Public Health Week: ‘Get Out Ahead’
Apr 9, 2014, 11:18 AM
NewPublicHealth continues its coverage of National Public Health Week with today’s theme—“Get Out Ahead” on prevention.
According to the American Public Health Association (APHA), seven in 10 deaths in the United States are related to preventable diseases such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer. And while 75 percent of U.S. health care dollars are spent treating such diseases, only 3 percent of health care dollars go toward prevention.
The APHA says there are now more options than ever when it comes to preventive health measures and that public health and clinical health professionals must work collaboratively to help individuals identify and pursue the best preventative health options.
A strong way to help prevent disease and premature death is to add health observance dates such as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and National HIV Testing Day to personal and community calendars.
Healthfinder.gov, a website from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, lists health observance days, weeks and months which can steer people toward information and resources. Health observances often include community screenings such as blood pressure and cholesterol checks, making it easy to have those tests on a weekend in your neighborhood. Those checks include resources guiding people to community care if tests show a potential health problem.
A critical observance in April is Alcoholism Awareness Month. Decades of data shows that drinking too much alcohol increases people’s risk of health-related injuries, violence, drowning, liver disease and some types of cancer.
Actions communities are taking in observance of Alcoholism Awareness Month include:
- Partnering with a local high school or youth organization to host an event about alcohol abuse prevention.
- Alcohol-free community block parties.
- Many local health clinics will offer free or low-cost screenings for alcohol abuse on National Alcohol Screening Day (April 11).
Many police stations are hosting Family Information Nights about the dangers of drinking and driving. Activities include special goggles that let kids and teens see how drinking can impact their vision behind the wheel.
This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.