Public Health is credited with adding 25 years to the life expectancy of people living in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control. Yet, few people know the role Public Health plays in keeping them safe and healthy. With this week being National Public Health Week it’s an opportune time to highlight the achievements of Public Health in the last century.
Every day, the lives of Americans are kept healthy due to achievements such as: vaccinations, motor-vehicle safety, safer workplaces, control of infectious disease, decline in deaths from chronic diseases, safer and healthier foods, healthier mothers and babies, family planning, fluoridation of drinking water, and recognition of tobacco use as a health hazard.
Here, in our community, Sacramento County’s Division of Public Health works hard to improve the health of our residents. Just this year, the Immunization Assistance Program distributed more than 7,000 flu vaccines through a series of community flu clinics and works to educate residents on the importance of getting vaccinated. The Public Health Emergency Preparedness team continually prepares and trains for potential public health disasters, such as: pandemic flu, floods and bio-terrorism. And, the Disease Control and Epidemiology Program tirelessly monitors and controls communicable disease in Sacramento County.
Educating the community on nutrition, the need for daily physical activity, and tobacco prevention and cessation, the Chronic Disease Prevention Program strives to reduce the health and economic impact of chronic disease on the Sacramento community. Strides in Public Health have led to a decline in deaths from chronic diseases, particularly from coronary heart disease and stroke, yet, chronic diseases are still the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems in America.
One of the most common causes of chronic disease is lack of physical activity; more than one-third of all adults do not meet the recommendations. Public Health research shows that if 10 percent of adults began walking regularly, heart disease costs could be reduced by $5.6 billion, and a sustained 10 percent weight loss could reduce an overweight person’s medical cost by about $5,300.
Americans have continued to live healthier and longer lives, thanks to the hard work and preventative health measures put in place by Public Health in the last century. Just imagine how long we will live in the next 100 years. So, let’s celebrate the dedicated people in Public Health who work to improve our health and quality of life every day.