Today's National Public Health Week focus is on community. It is important to focus on the important role that communities play in our overall health and wellbeing. Despite advances in medical technology and knowledge, much of our health is determined by the conditions in which we live, work, learn, and play. There are many ways in which you can make an impact on public health in your community. Communities are more than just a collection of people – they are a source of identity, resilience, and strength.
What is Community Health?
Community health is a field of public health that focuses on improving the health of communities and populations. It is an area of study that looks at how social, economic, and environmental factors influence the health of people and communities. Community health workers are often the link between public health officials and the community. They work to improve the health of their communities by providing education, conducting outreach, and advocating for public health policies.
Why is Community Health Important?
Community health is important because it is the health of our communities that determine our overall health and wellbeing. It is also a way to address social determinants of health (chart below source), which are the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age. They affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes. The public health community has long recognized that these social factors play a role in health. However, we are only now beginning to understand how much they matter. By improving things like the safety of neighborhoods and the quality of schools, we can improve public health. Poor air quality, for example, can lead to cancer, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, and premature death. By reducing pollution and improving air quality, we can make a significant impact on public health.
Finally, we can also make an impact on public health by improving access to healthcare. In many communities, there are not enough primary care providers or mental health professionals to meet the needs of residents. By increasing access to healthcare, we can improve public health and help people live longer healthier lives.
How to Improve Community Health Outcomes?
We can improve community health outcomes through engagement, education, and empowerment. Engagement means working with communities to identify their health needs and priorities. Education means providing information about public health and how to protect oneself and others from disease. Empowerment means giving people the tools they need to take action to improve their health.
Engagement is a key part of public health. It helps us build relationships with communities and understand their needs. It also helps us develop trust and credibility. Community engagement can take many forms, including public meetings, focus groups, surveys, and one-on-one interviews.
Education is another important part of public health. It helps people learn about the risks and benefits of different health behaviors. It also helps people understand how to prevent disease and promote health.
Education can take many forms, including public awareness campaigns, educational materials, and community-based programs. Community engagement is not a one-way street it is important for all public health practitioners to know we can learn from the community. We can learn about their culture, values, and traditions. We can also learn about the issues that are important to them.
Empowerment is the third key ingredient of public health. It means giving people the power to take action to improve their health. Empowerment can come from many sources, including education, social support, and access to resources. It can also come from within, as people realize they have the power to make a change in their lives.
5 Ways You Can Advocate to Make Your Community Healthier
When it comes to public health, we all have a role to play in making our communities healthier. Here are five ways you can advocate for public health in your community:
Educate yourself and others about the social determinants of health and how they impact health outcomes.
Support policies and programs that address the social determinants of health in your community.
Engage with your community to identify health needs and priorities.
Empower people in your community to take action to improve their health.
Advocate for increased access to healthcare in your community.
When it comes to public health, community matters. By working together, we can make our communities healthier places to live, work, learn, and play.
These are just a few ways you can make a difference in public health. For more ideas, follow Public Health Goals on LinkedIn and learn more about upcoming community digital events.
-National Public Health Week. (n.d.). Community Matters: How to Improve Public Health.
-The Role of Community in Public Health. (2018, April 09)
-What is public health? | CDC
-What are social determinants of health? | CDC
-Community Engagement | NNPHI. (n.d.)
-Empowerment | NNPHI.
-Advocacy | NNPHI.
-National Public Health Week: Community Matters Toolkit.