Events will help you celebrate Public Health Week
By Ann Smith
Special to the Salisbury Post
National Public Health Week, April 6-10, is a good time to increase awareness about public heath and how we all benefit from it.
The foundation for public health embraces three core functions:
- Assessment: Monitor community health and investigate health issues that will affect the community.
- Policy Development: Inform, educate and empower the community about health issues along with strategic planning to support health efforts.
- Assurance: Enforce laws and regulations, link people to needed personal health care, and then evaluate the progress to have continuous improvement.
The main goal of public health is to prevent and control disease. From vaccinating children and adults, to providing community programs, to maintaining safe eating establishments, public health reaches out to provide and sustain a safe and healthier environment.
Below are a few examples of how public health reaches our communities:
- Healthy mothers/healthy babies: Public health promotes early and regular prenatal care. Mothers are encouraged to have good nutrition during pregnancy and avoid tobacco, drugs and alcohol. Breastfeeding is highly encouraged and the benefits are explained to the mother. Family planning and birth spacing for healthier children is discussed at the post partum visit. Newborn screening tests for rare but serious conditions and a hearing test are routinely done before the baby leaves the hospital.
- Control of childhood disease: In 1900, 30 percent of deaths were children under 5 years of age. The main causes were smallpox, polio, measles, tetanus, pertussis and diphtheria. Thanks to the combination of vaccine development and policies promoting childhood immunization, the death os children 5 years and younger is around 1 percent today. The state requires children have immunizations before they start school and Vaccines for Children provides them at no cost to uninsured or underinsured children.
- Childhood lead poisoning prevention: Long term exposure to lead can damage a child’s developing brain, particularly in children under 6 years of age. Lead levels are detected by a blood test routinely done at 12 and 24 months old. Lead can be found in the paint of older homes, some toys and pottery. If lead levels are mildly elevated the best treatment is to remove the child from the source of lead. Childhood lead poisoning has been declining, but it still is a serious concern.
- Motor vehicle safety: Seat belt laws for adults and safety seats for children have reduced injury and death. Public education campaigns have helped to increase seatbelt use while driving. Safety seats that are correctly installed should be used for children from birth until 8 years old or 80 pounds.
- Tobacco as a health hazard: Smoking is a preventable cause of disease, disability and death. Health educators want people to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Warning labels have been put on tobacco products, sale to anyone 18 and younger has been prohibited, and tobacco-free areas in public places are just three of the ways to encourage a tobacco-free lifestyle.
- Occupational safety: For most, work is a part of life. With a great portion of the day spent at work, public health focuses on ensuring the safety and health of employees through research to develop interventions to prevent immediate or long term health problems.
- Public health preparedness and response: Public health is prepared to respond to a wide range of either natural or man-made disaster or events. Preparedness in public health is the readiness to protect and save lives during an emergency.
Please come and celebrate National Public Health Week with us at Rowan County Health Department. Activities are planned daily this week to highlight issues that are important to improving our nation’s health. We look forward to celebrating with you:
Today, 8 a.m.– 12 p.m.: Breastfeeding Education Session
Our WIC Breastfeeding peer counselor and Health Link program coordinator will present breastfeeding information and discuss details of their support group. Connie Hoffner, a certified lactation consultant from Novant Health, will also be in attendance to assist with questions and concerns. Join us in the Community Room which is located through the large double doors to your right as you enter the health department lobby. Topics of discussion are working and breastfeeding, family support of the breastfeeding mom and how to overcome challenges while breastfeeding.
Tuesday, 1-5 p.m.: Immunization for Adults and Children
Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) and measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccinations will be provided to uninsured adults that do not have documentation of having had these vaccines. Required childhood vaccines, based on age, including diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTaP), hepatitis B, polio, human papilloma virus (HPV – Gardasil), meningococcal, Tdap and varicella (Chickenpox) will be provided to children 18 years of age and younger that are Medicaid eligible, uninsured or underinsured. Please bring your immunization record with you.
Wednesday, 10-11 a.m.: Lead Education
An environmental health specialist will be present to educate families on what lead is, who is at greatest risk for lead poisoning, effects of lead poisoning on developing children and how to prevent lead poisoning. Common household sources of lead will be displayed, what candies to avoid and how to select lead-free toys will be discussed.
Thursday, 9 a.m.-noon: Dental Health Day
The public health dental hygienist will screen and count your teeth. When finished, go to the Smile Center Dental Clinic and pick up your free bag filled with a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss and educational information. Bags are available for both adults and kids.
Friday, 9-11 a.m.: Buckle Up/Safe Kids
It’s not easy finding the right car seat for your child. Let a safety instructor provide you with education on car seats, safety helmets, home safety, children in and around vehicles, and many other topics. In addition, car-seat checks will be available to make sure your seat is safe and not been recalled. Smart Start Rowan will also provide a child safety technician to discuss safety and well-being for children.
For more information, appointments, or questions, please call the Rowan County Health Department at 704-216-8777 Monday – Friday 8am – 5:00pm.
Ann Smith is public health nursing supervisor at the Rowan County Health Department.